Year 12 students from St Mary MacKillop College in Tuggeranong took a trip to the northside this week for a two-night reflection retreat.
Principal Michael Lee said usually the senior retreat would be held in Collaroy on Sydney's northern beaches but the recent COVID-19 outbreak put a stop to all interstate school trips.
"I was determined that year 12 should have some kind of overnight experience somewhere rather than cancelling it like we did last year," Mr Lee said.
"Anyway, here we are in Gungahlin."
Canberra Park had all of their bookings cancelled when the coronavirus hit Australia in 2020. Some school groups returned to the capital in May and June this year but the interstate schools are cancelling their trips again amid the delta variant outbreak.
General manager David Grigg said the business was trying to encourage ACT school to take advantage of the openings and book their school camps and retreats at the Mitchell facility.
"More than 80 per cent is school educational groups back filled with sporting groups so to have all that taken away is quite a large hole in the last 18 months," Mr Grigg said.
That revenue hole equates to a 75 per cent decrease in income since April last year.
The facility went from employing 35 staff to just four full-time workers when the virus hit. In May this year about 25 staff were back working on site but now only six remain because of cancellations.
Canberra Park employs people for cleaning, reception, maintenance and in the kitchen, while using predominantly local suppliers.
Mr Grigg is now appealing to local schools to consider Canberra Park for a stay-education experience. The facility will be able to tailor the experience to suit the schools' needs and help them to build an itinerary to keep students occupied.
This could be anything from Bricks 4 Kids Lego workshops, fitness sessions or a guest speaker from The Big Issue.
But Mr Grigg said more government support should be available for Canberra's $160 million education industry to keep businesses afloat and protect jobs.
Mr Lee said the school was happy to keep money in the ACT economy.
"It's a different configuration. It's new, there's no ocean view ... but it's keeping a significant amount of money in the city, where these kids work and go to school and where their parents work, so I'm happy about that side of it," he said.
"My team had sung the praises of Canberra Park."
School captains Lilly Vassallo and Zac Cunningham were keen to reflect with their classmates on how they'd grown since year 7.
"Especially this year the whole group just feel so much closer and we've shared so many experiences together and it's really amazing to have the opportunity to come to a place like this in Canberra still and be able to have that experience," Lilly said.
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