St Seraphim Youth Camp

Every year for many years now the Diocese has organised an annual youth camp. Originally it was in Norfolk in a village called Effingham. More recently it has moved to the other side of the country to Gloucestershire in the beautiful Forest of Dean, near to a small town called Newent. It is lead by Father Stephen Platt, who is the priest of St Nicholas Parish in Oxford and his wife Matushka Anna. Father Stephen and Matushka Anna have a team of leaders and workers to help them. 

This year I was privileged to attend for a few days. The camp is on the site of a former farm that is being converted into an adventure centre for young Christians, so I was pleased to find excellent facilities available. The actual campers were under canvas-huge ex-army tents-personalised by the people in them as part of the camp experience. People like myself (I am a bit too old for sleeping on the ground) were billeted in a new bunkhouse currently being built alongside the refectory and kitchen. All in all-basic, but great fun. Perhaps, in years to come, campers will sleep in the bunk houses and not in the tents. 

The food was simple but ample-the days I was there, we had (at different meals) fish fingers, jacket potatoes, baked beans, sausages and baked apples. There was always seconds too. 

The days begin with Father Stephen leading Morning Prayers then breakfast. Next comes either trips out or help in understanding the faith. After lunch more things are planned which are carried on after Tea. During my time at camp, people went swimming, a “Kamp’s got Talent” contest was held, and there was a disco and a party. Father Stephen serves the Liturgy on Sunday. There is also normally a Liturgy on the Feast Day of St Seraphim, the Patron of the Camp, which happens when Camp is on. This year however, the Feast of St Seraphim was on the Sunday so Liturgy was served only once. That Liturgy is followed by an enormous Banquet to celebrate the Feast of St Seraphim. The days conclude with Evening Prayer. 

I found the camp atmosphere relaxed and fun. Different guests are invited during the week to do various things-I was invited to present a magic show and do some balloon modelling, the next day a potter was invited to show how to make pots. 

I found the camp atmosphere relaxed and fun. Different guests are invited during the week to do various things-I was invited to present a magic show and do some balloon modelling, the next day a potter was invited to show how to make pots. 

As a Parish, in the past,  we have had very little to do with the Youth Camp. My experience is that we are missing out on a great opportunity here. The age range is “rising 9s” to 17. I hope that next year we will be able to send a group there. I’m sure everyone will enjoy it.