Somers Facilities Update: - Lord Somers Camp and Power House

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Somers Facilities Update:

January saw our Somers campsite host Big Camps 2024 in fine style.

Many months of member preparation for our flagship program is matched by the systematic approach to maintenance and capital works at Somers, and I was especially grateful to all those members that specifically highlighted the wonderful condition of camp as they arrived.

Our aging facility still failed in some areas during camp and understandably so. The heavy burden of numbers, and style of use, shows that Lord Somers Camp has clearly reached a point where it requires significant financial input if we are to continue the experiencing the joy of delivering our well-respected programs. And so, whilst there are various perspectives through which we can see the reasons for our current position, in the end, the usability of our camp site will be determined by what we do next.

From a management perspective, we focus on our monthly maintenance schedule and prioritise all the various regulatory requirements that allow us to open our doors to guests. Some of the guiding documents include the FOOD ACT, the PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELLBEING ACT, CFA requirements, AUSTRALIAN TOURISM INDUSTRY COUNCIL accreditation requirements, EPA requirements, numerous overlays imposed by the Mornington Shire including VEGETATION, ENVIRONMENTAL SIGNIFICANCE, and HERITAGE, not to mention all areas associated with risk and safety to satisfy the significant requirements of our insurance coverage.

From a user’s perspective, the site needs to be respected and accepted for the age it is, and the life it has lived so far. Thought must be given to how our usage behaviour can be modified in an effort to extend the useful life of our beautiful site in the absence of significant immediate funding. In short, we need to focus on HOW it’s used over HOW OFTEN.

In the meantime, Somers management continues to-

1. Address the various items raised for attention. Some of these include ongoing electrical works (rectifying the damage of excessively long screws that were drilled into Slush Hut bedroom door striker plates which pierced wires and made door handles live and dangerous to touch), plumbing works (Coltman Hut upstairs shower drainage has proven inadequate and caused significant damage), grounds work (foundations have washed away from the timber post opposite Red Hut), building works (various doors, windows, showers, walls and floors need attention).

2. Make improvements around camp where possible like changing over ionised smoke detectors to photoelectric to suit our needs better, upgrades to internet connectivity, resurfacing of bitumen along our camp entrance, Executive Hut and Slush Hut, sanding and polishing the hallways of Slush Hut, weeding, clearing and mulching garden beds at our entrance driveway, introducing organic waste disposal to name a few.

3. Focus on further capital work projects such as the First Aid Room renovation, Slush Shed, Lone Pine Hut, and Somers Office. This focus has required many interactions with the Shire, neighbours, heritage consultants, architects and all associated specialists, as well as engaging with a Quantity Surveyor for project cost estimates.

All of this work progresses throughout the year whilst we simultaneously operate a highly regarded social enterprise with a solid reputation as a premium camp experience for Victorian schools, 52 of which we host each year. We employ up to 30 industry professionals to deliver above expectation service across catering and activity facilitation that makes Lord Somers Camp the envy of many other sites, and generates much need funds for the organisation we are all part of.

In my 15th year of service based at Lord Somers Camp, I can confidently say that nobody in the history of this organisation has spent more hours servicing guests onsite than I have. Whilst I acknowledge this truth as a beautiful personal achievement, it is not meant to read as a boast. Rather, a message that this has fostered a deep spiritual connection to the site and a strong sense of protection for all it represents. Please help support this passion we all share by being mindful, at all stages of planning and facilitation, of how your individual actions affect the longevity of our beloved Somers site.

-Alex Escudero

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