After many years, South London Family Camp has returned to Cleeve House where families from up and down the United Kingdom have spent the past few days deepening bonds, strengthening faith and building a community. Grace Tribe and Simon Cooper share about their experience at Cleeve House.
Testimony from Grace Tribe:
“The last time I came to summer camp was over six years ago. I was a regular attendee when I was young and always valued the time we could spend together as a community. After years of European workshops and other summer activities, I finally had the chance to return as a young adult. And I am so grateful that I did.
With a camp motto of ‘Creating New Opportunities’, everyone came with an open mindset and ready to reconnect to old friends as well as to make new ones. We had an inspiring opening service from Uncle Simon R. where he stated the quote: “You will always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” This led to the naming of the teams this year to be based on American basketball teams.
Thunderstorms were due from the first night up until departures day. However, we were blessed with the rain holding out long enough for some heathy competitive sport. Alex S. rose to the challenge of coordinating sports and held his ground when a contentious ‘resurrection’ occurred in a heated game of matanage.
The high energy in sports carried over into all the activities, with extremely enthusiastic chants and elaborate secret pal gift creations from the extensive art supplies provided. I never knew how much patience was required to make such a vast loom band collection.
Creativity didn’t end there as the skits for family night incorporated clever storylines and dramatic props, from shadow puppets to slow-motion action of a basketball shot in mid-air. A couple of amazing musical performances from Beni and Carmel brought a warming vibe to the evening as I personally sat in awe of their talent.
“It has been two years since we have been able to meet up at the South London family camp. A lot has happened in that time. In our own lives, in our families, in the country.
With the scout camp down in Essex taking a long time to respond to Simon R. about our booking due to Covid-19 ,we had to switch location and ended up meeting in Cleeve House, the place where the camp culture was originally devised by Simon, Ashley and Toby back in the early 2000s.
No one ever sleeps that well (or that much) at summer camp, but the days are incredible. We took a journey, as four teams (Mavericks, Raptors, Cavaliers, and the Warriors) parents, children, grandparents, people who were fresh out of Uni, some having just been recovering from A-levels and GCSEs.
We ate together, cooked together, raced each other, played ultimate frisbee, football, rounders, and a host of other games with bizarre names. It was competitive, contentious, and passionate as the teams went up against each other in the challenges.
We finished on the last night with a Persian BBQ and some skits, which just get better and better every year: the props, the story lines, the one liners. Their scripts and originality would put Love Island to bed any day of the week.
Toby’s daughter, Amelia, came for the final day with her mum and her son. She presented for the first time the Toby W. cup for the camper who was felt to have really gone above and beyond. She gave a powerful testimony to her father’s life and to the spirit of South London family camp.
Tomorrow we start the journey back to our homes, but there was talk of next year doing two camps, one at Easter as well as in the summer. So we look forward to 2022, and inviting more of our friends and family next time round and growing older and wiser together.
The journey that we experience when we meet like this allows us to deepen our roots, understand why we care about each other, and shines a light on the path ahead to a place where we can find freedom in our faith, and strengthen the fabric of our family life.“
South London Family Camp is an annual gathering of families open to everyone within our Unificationist Community. For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.