Like to get outside, have fun, meet  people and exercise?  Then the following Camps may be worth exploring.  We asked Alan Bull, Project Manager Australian Camps Association, about the ‘Over 55’s Getaway Camps.

Why were the ‘Over 55’s Getaway Camps’ started?
Residential camping has been part of Australian culture for many years including camp programs for people over 55. In 2014, a camp was held by the Council of the Ageing (COTA), Australian Camps Association (ACA) and YMCA Victoria to offer an avenue for older people to enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors.

In May 2017, the Australian Camps Association held a workshop, which involved a group of 14 seniors, to develop a direction for two pilot camps for older people.  This was lead by Dr Liz Cyarto and Louise Karch.  They found that older people would respond to these camps more if they were not called camps as this implied that they may be sleeping in tents. Thus, the name The Great Getaways was established.

The workshop also identified that there should be two types of Getaways;
1. ‘Adventurers’ Getaways and
2.  Have A Try’ Getaways (HAT)

These pilot Getaways, the subject of research by Dr. Liz Cyarto and funded by the Department of Health & Human Services Victoria and the Australian Camps Association, aimed to explore the impacts of outdoor experiences on the health and wellbeing of older adults.

The Adventurers Getaway was designed to have a more physically challenging program such a rock climbing, abseiling, high ropes course and a long hike.  The ‘Have A Try’ Getaway program was designed for people who were less confident in outdoor activities or were beginners. Activities for the HAT Getaway included archery, cycling and canoeing.

Two Getaways catering for both these groups were created, promoted and implemented in October 2017 at Licola with over 40 participants joining us over the two Getaways.

A summative report of the research can be found online here.

What has been the response to the Getaways?
20 people attended the Adventurers Getaway and 21 people attended the HAT Getaway.


Another 31 attended a Getaway in Anglesea in April 2018.  Its focus was on the Adventure side of activities, although five from the HAT Getaway at Licola attended this more active Getaway.

We already have great interest in our August Getaway to Marysville with over 15 people already booked in!

Can anyone attend?
The Getaways are open to people over 55 years and our programs can cater for people with various abilities.  The Australian Camps Association is a firm believer of ‘Challenge by Choice’ with all participants being encouraged to participate in the activities throughout the Getaway.

Where are the Camps held?
At present, Getaways are being held within two hours commute from Melbourne – Anglesea, Marysville and Bacchus Marsh.

They are held in accredited residential camps that are members of the ACA.  The Getaways offer shared cabin/ bunkroom accommodation. Meals and dietary requirements are catered for.  The camp staff lead most of the activities throughout the program.  There is no pressure for participants to do all the activities however; we do encourage everyone to give them a try.

ACA are developing a base of successful Getaways in Victoria with plans to also host them interstate.  Programs change from Getaway to Getaway, with different venues offering different activities at each site.

Do you have to have a certain level of fitness to attend?
Yes and No.

The Getaways are promoting ‘Healthy Ageing’ and can cater for most fitness levels. If there happens to be an activity that we are participating in that requires a higher level of fitness, we will inform participants of this at the time of booking.

Are there other such Camps around Australia? 


There are many camps across Australia however, not all would have specific programs for Over 55’s.  In NSW there have been camp programs for older people on and off for 50 years.

There are some ACA Member camps that offer discounts through the Victorian Seniors Card Program – they can be viewed here. If you’d like to know more about available programs, please contact the Australian Camps Association on 03 9863 6822.

A few YMCA camps around Melbourne hold day activities for older people to engage in physical activities also.

As mentioned, ACA is keen to expand the Getaways interstate.

Outcomes of the Great Getaways to date

  • Participants overcame fears of physical activities such as abseiling or riding a bike.
  • Gained confidence
  • Met like-minded people
  • Developed friendships and engaged more outdoor pursuits
  • Went home ‘on a high’
  • Re-discovered happiness

What did we learn?
The Great Getaway program and its associated research, clearly shows that dedicated camps tailored for older adults can make an important contribution to their health and wellbeing. An unexpected finding was that a segment of older adults want to experience high intensity, physically challenging activities. By combining the benefits of social connection, exposure to natural environments, and increased physical activity / challenge, the Great Getaway programs have enormous potential to make a real difference to our quality of life as we age.

*If you are interested in attending or for more information,
please visit Australian Camps Association website   or
Contact Alan Bull on    03 9863 6822     or      Email


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