The history of King River Camp dates back to when it was first established in 1947
Commencing as a Christian Youth camp over Christmas 1947, it used primarily for Easter and Christmas holiday camps. For many years the camp was “home” to 100’s of young people.
Aubrey Jackel, Church of Christ member, Real Estate Agent, and later Mayor of Wangaratta was a prime mover behind the establishment of the camp. Aubrey supported the camp, until his untimely death in 1970, aged 49. Aubrey’s brother, Ivan, and Alma Jackel were also long time supporters of the camp.
The camp is located on land donated for Youth Camping in 1964, by Harold Izard, his wife Beatrice and her mother Mrs L. Murton (nee Burrowes). The Izard family farmed a considerable land in the area. Harold together with his brother Clive, who lived in Cheshunt, were also supporters of the local Church of England in Whitfield.
The Camp Grows…..
The campsite developed over time, aided by voluntary labour. Camps were held regularly, and as campers expectations grew so did the camp. Initially, camps were under canvas and ablutions were taken in the nearby King River West Branch. The King River originally flowed through the camp, but was moved north when Lake William Hovell was built.
Tents gave way to a rough camp kitchen. An army Nissen hut was added for the girls, and a rudimentary dormitory (Winch) for the boys.
The annual “cleanup” to ready for camp for the onslaught of young people was a feature of camp life. Mowing, cutting, stacking saw an influx of volunteers to do the work.
The North East Conference of the Churches of Christ, (Yarrawonga, Wodonga, Albury, Wagga, Wangaratta, Bright and Shepparton) and Melbourne based Christian Endeavour utilised camp facilities regularly. In 1983 Campaigners For Christ took over the title and management of the camp.
The first camp caretakers were Ian and Betty Crowe from Swan Hill who arrived in 1985 to assist in the proper maintenance of the land and facilities.
Their accommodation in freezing temperatures was initially in the camp kitchen, then a caravan. A tobacco pickers hut relocated to site in 1988. They invested their time and energy until 1992 seeing a new girls lodge (Peipers) built by Mobile Mission Maintenance in 1989.
A new residence was relocated in 1989 and completed in 1990.
In 1996 Campaigners For Christ returned management and title of the camp to a local management committee called Friends of Cheshunt Christian Camp. This now operates as an incorporated body called Cheshunt Christian Camp Inc.
Andrew and Julie Tyler, and then Les and Judy Smith from Castlemaine continued camp management from 1993 until 2001. During this time a new dining hall and kitchen complex was built and opened in 1993. The residence was also extended by two bedrooms in 1994 to accommodate the larger Smith clan.
During these years regular use of the camp by secular groups became commonplace in order that the camp remain financially viable.
In January 2014 Geoff and Glenda Laing took over as camp managers, and a new bush kitchen was added.