Mobile Unit. Roxburgh Children's Health Camp

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Interviews and recordings at the Roxburgh Children’s Health Camp, including interviews with staff and children, and detailed descriptions of the operation and purpose of the camp.

The announcer begins with an interview with the Mayor of Roxburgh, Mr Harry Waight, and the Matron of the camp, Miss Salt. Mr Waight speaks about the health camp movement, which began in the early 1930s. Michael Joseph Savage chose Otago as the first province to have a health camp built. The camp has been operating for seven years, since the opening day on 7 November 1941.

Miss Salt says there have been 1,588 children through the camp since opening, with 56 to 60 children aged from 5 to 12 coming through each term period. The Medical Officer of Health selects the children to attend the camp. Mr Waight is on the Otago Committee, which arranges for the children to be transported to Roxburgh. There is discussion about the buildings, including costs (around £39,000 in total), and additions. Miss Salt speaks about the transport arrangements for getting the children to the camp, and the arrival procedures. The children attend the camp for rest and good health, and usually stay for three months.

The camp buildings are set around a central courtyard. The school consists of two schoolrooms set at one end of the courtyard. The announcer speaks to the two full-time teachers, Miss Wright and Miss McDonald. Miss Wright speaks about the general routine of the school. There is a usual school curriculum in the morning, and sometimes excursions to the hills or orchards. In the afternoons there is recreation, handwork, and music. Miss McDonald is the handwork (art and craft) teacher. Activities include weaving, toy-making, and pattern-making.

The matron has ten aides on staff – young women who look after the children and clean the facilities. Camp aide Mildred Harris gives further detail of her work, including the children’s teeth brushing routine. She hopes to go into nursing eventually.

Mr Waight then speaks about the vegetable garden, which supplies the camp with nearly all the vegetables it needs. The matron talks about the use of vegetables in the kitchen – every day the children are given green and root vegetables. Corn was new to a lot of the children, and has become a favourite.

The matron speaks about Christmas in the camp. Each child receives a present, and hang up their stockings. She dresses as Santa Claus herself. Mr Waight says the Committee endeavours to make the children as happy as possible at Christmas.

The announcer interviews the laundress, Doreen. She speaks about the washing and drying machines in the laundry. She also has old-fashioned copper tubs. The newer washing and drying machines get the work done in half the time. The drier is especially useful in winter, and it takes as many as 20 sheets at a time.

The announcer visits the dormitories with the matron. There are four dormitories: two for small children, and two for older children. The murals on the walls were painted by an artist from Roxburgh, with designs specified by the children. A small boy speaks about the murals, which include Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse, Superman, and Disney characters.

There is then a visit to the kitchen. New stainless-steel benches were put in nine months ago, at a cost of £400. The cook, Dorothy, used to be a child visitor at the camp. She was there for three months in 1942. Dorothy speaks about the food she makes for the children. The children have milk with every meal – they go through seventeen gallons per day. The matron and the assistant cook, Charlotte, speak from the vegetable room.

The matron speaks about the boot room, and the shower and bath facilities. Each child has their own toiletries. Aide Mildred Harris explains the numbering system, which helps keep the children and their belongings in order. The small girl’s dormitory is then visited, and a child Cynthia May speaks about the nursery rhyme murals.

There are also atmospheric recordings of the ‘milk gong’, and the children in the lunch room. A boy speaks about the food, and his experience in the camp – he enjoys billiards and table tennis.

The following songs are performed by the children’s choir:
- Thankyou Song
- Roxburgh Way/You Can’t Be Clean
- Luban Loo

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Year 1948

Reference number 5605

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Interviews (Sound recordings)
Sound recordings

Credits New Zealand Broadcasting Service. Mobile Recording Unit, Broadcaster

Duration 01:00:32

Date 22 Oct 1948

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