Warwick’s Morgan Park was a hive of activity in the second week of January as more than 120 kids gathered to develop their skills and further their understanding of the beef industry.
Santa Gertrudis National Junior Show and Camp coordinator Scott Dunlop said the camp exists to encourage the youth of the cattle industry.
Kids learn a variety of skills from how to prepare and groom cattle, to how to judge commercial and stud stock, assess structural soundness and parade the animals.
The older students also receive advice on careers in the beef industry and the importance of engaging with the media.
Mr Dunlop said the camp would not be possible without the parents and volunteers who give up their time to truck cattle, provide lessons for the kids and run the kitchen.
“The kitchen tells me the other night they did 220 meals in a sitting, that gives you an idea of the scale of this event,” he said.
Reflecting on how the camp has evolved over two decades, Mr Dunlop said it was heartening to see past students coming back to pass on their own knowledge and industry experience.
“I think it started off as some of the older generation realising it was a means of encouraging the youth, not just in the Santa breed, but in the beef industry in general,” he said.
“It was a way to pass on knowledge and that has carried on; now we have past students coming back as lecturers.”
Robert Murphy, Mt Walker, is one of the many volunteers who give up their time for the camp each year.
The 28-year-old has been involved with the camp since he was about 10, coming through as a student with his brothers and going on to become a group leader.
Mr Murphy said he grew up showing Braford cattle with his family’s stud but for some kids the camp was their first opportunity to learn how to show cattle.
He said it also provided kids the chance to meet up with like-minded people and learn how to care for stock.
“Knowing how much it gave me as a student and the ability to make some lifelong friends that I still have today, swayed my decision to wanting to come back,” he said.