Camp Creative transitions to a new coordinator

Kristen Collier with Rob and Michelle Stockton at the tutors' party. Photo Richard Layt.
Kristen Collier with Rob and Michelle Stockton at the tutors' party. Photo Richard Layt.

Bellingen is humming with creativity as 1022 people dedicate themselves to 80 different courses in visual arts, crafts, music, dance, drama, singing, photography, writing, cooking and even circus skills.

Michelle Stockton, who's been coordinating Camp Creative since 2013 with her husband Rob, said until she tried a course in mosaics herself she didn't quite get the attraction of doing the same thing for a week.

"But when I got started I realised how important it is to be immersed in that creative space. And I didn't have lunch, I didn't do anything else, I just sat there and did it for five days."

After being associated with the camp for almost 20 years as volunteers, committee members and coordinators, Michelle and Rob are in the process of passing the baton to Kristen Collier, someone they've known well since she was a teenager.

In 2018, Michelle and Kristen worked together to stage the tenth anniversary celebrations of Stitched Up, the mentoring and sewing group that brings older women and girls together to share skills in sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting, embroidery and crafting.

"Also Kristen was friends with my eldest daughter in high school from Year 9 to Year 12," Michelle said.

"She was in Year 12 when I was in my first year as principal at Bellingen High in 1999," Rob said.

As well as the "passion and brains" that Rob and Michelle were looking for in their replacement, Kristen also has solid experience in arts, music, festivals and events.

"My background is in events management," she said. "I ran the Saltwater Freshwater Festival and I worked on Global Carnival and a lot of other community-based events. I've also been running Bellingen Guides for the last 20 years."

Asked if she had to be tapped on the shoulder to step up, Kristen said there was "a firm tap".

Although admitting to "a tinge of sadness", Michelle and Rob also sounded pleased to be handing over the demanding role that has dominated their lives for so long.

"I think it's time for a younger model," Michelle said.

Asked if they would enrol in a course themselves next year, they said no, quite emphatically, adding that they were looking forward to being somewhere other than Bellingen in January for a change.

"I can tell you what I've loved about Camp Creative," Michelle said. "You can be sitting next to a barrister or a truck driver and you wouldn't know, because everyone is just here as their creative self."

  • Updated January 15 to fix a misquote about Kristen's involvement with Global Carnival

Camp Creative Party

On Thursday January 16, Camp Creative comes to the Maam Gaduying Park from 5.30pm until sunset with an open-air stage full of entertainment and plenty of food stalls to supply your picnic on the grass.

Everyone is welcome - locals, campers and visitors.

Camp Creative Committee: President Paul Holding, Alison Brown, Jackie Lee, Margot Pleasant, Merren Asquith, David Neville, Rob and Michelle Stockton, Janette Blainey, Robbie Spence, Patron Gillian Helfgott, Paul Tipper and Peter Spence

Camp Creative Committee: President Paul Holding, Alison Brown, Jackie Lee, Margot Pleasant, Merren Asquith, David Neville, Rob and Michelle Stockton, Janette Blainey, Robbie Spence, Patron Gillian Helfgott, Paul Tipper and Peter Spence