Between Sunday July 31, 2023, and Sunday August 6, 2023, an enjoyable camp for families of the Church was held in Gloucestershire, England, at the Wilderness activity center. Accommodation was a mix of camping in bell tents or staying in rooms in the main house. The picturesque views of rolling hills, rivers and woodland enhanced the experience.
This year’s event was attended by around 100 people; campers from 2-18 years old, parents, grandparents and other staff. Attendees hailed from England, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Sweden, the United States and Australia, giving a wonderful international feel to the week.
Days at Camp Wilderness started with breakfast and a biblical “Thought of the Day,” followed by separate age-appropriate focused sessions, facilitated by parents and staff. On Friday evening, we enjoyed a hymn sing-along around the campfire. On the Sabbath, we welcomed several brethren from the Gloucester congregation and heard two split sermons on topics relevant to our young people and were treated to two pieces of special music from our campers and attendees.
Onsite activities this year included air riflery, archery, capture the flag, bushcraft, tunnelling and a camp favorite—crate stacking (a high ropes activity where participants see how many crates can be stacked and stood upon before toppling). Our staff ran sporting activities such as rounders, ultimate rocket frisbee and craft activities such as pottery. Dance class and skit sessions culminated in a special viewing during our fancy-dress and karaoke celebration evening. During the week, groups left the site to go to an outdoor swimming pool, a soft play center and Go Ape (a high rope and zip line course in the forest). All activities and events encouraged teamwork, friendship and “doing things with all your might” (one of the many aspects of the camp theme this year). To fuel us, our kitchen staff prepared exceptionally delicious meals each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Families in the British Isles and Europe are relatively isolated and opportunities to spend a week together at camp are immensely important for the parents as well as for the children. Some parents commented about how heartwarming it was to witness their children build wonderful friendships and others about feeling renewed and encouraged to continue raising their children in God’s way, despite the challenges that come with it.
We thank all of our parents, grandparents and other volunteers who gave up a week of their time to support the youth in Britain and Europe. We thank others in the Church for their prayers about this event and above all, we thank God for His protection and blessing on this camp and all other camps around the world.
Jon and Debi Richardson