Youcamp was born around a campfire on the edge of a forest on private land on the south coast of NSW. The website founders, James Woodford and Prue Bartlett, have always loved the outdoors and nature. Prue is a scientist who has worked as a ranger and natural resource manager for over 20 years. James is a journalist and author who has written about science and the environment all of his career. They have brought up all their four children to be the kind of people who can light a fire, pitch a tent and split a log. And one of their favourite things is to camp with everyone in the family – including their dogs – and to use time outside as a way to reconnect with friends.
One evening around the fire they realised that properties, like theirs, were great locations for camping and other outdoor adventures. While many Australians had become disenchanted with camping in commercial van parks and national parks, they had the realisation that private land opened a whole new frontier for outdoor adventures and a return to a more authentic kind of holiday – one where people could choose the kind of break they wanted and what they wanted to do. When Youcamp.com went live early in 2013 the very first property that was opened to campers was theirs – Cudbugga Forest. Since then James and Prue have seen, first hand, the effect that being on a property like Cudbugga Forest can have on everyone from stressed adults to urban based children. They realised that even just a few days in a place without jobs, wifi and stress, had the power to re-fuel people and their relationships.
Apart from the benefits to friends and family, James and Prue are also determined to see special places on private land, become more appreciated and better managed. When they created a permanent legal covenant on their land, to protect a special remnant patch of forest, they were dismayed to discover that it reduced the value of their land. Youcamp, for the first time, actually allows landholders to gain an income from their environmental assets. After all people are seeking lovely forests, well run farms, resilient rivers and healthy lakes to visit, not degraded areas.
Youcamp has had a lot media coverage and has taken on a life of its own as a private land sharing community. Today veterans groups, families with disabled children and countless other community organisations are able to tailor the exact kinds of experiences they are seeking.