Lloyd Silverthorne asks...

Schoolcamp1959thDoes anyone remember those 'School Camps' which used to run at the end of the summer holidays?

We used to return to school a week early(!) - which in itself was a strange feeling as there would be none of the usual hustle and bustle - in fact the whole place seemed strangely dead and quiet. Then we would set off in coaches to the 'camp'.

Summer camp 1959 Click to enlarge

The 'camp' wasn't always static - I remember that one year we were on two multi-berth cruisers on the Norfolk Broads. (piccy can be supplied if required). But my most memorable camp was in 1959 in the Quantock Hills in Somerset at Great Wood Camp.

This camp was run by Reg Durrant the art master, assisted by students from our sister foundation at Oak Hill.

The camp consisted of a woodland clearing with a stream running along one side - over which there was the inevitable hanging rope on which we swung - and often fell - into the water below!

We lived in wooden huts scattered around the site, and slept in iron bunk beds. I also remember that there was a week-long competition for the hut with the most inventive and well-constructed external amenities - we built a 'washing line' out of poles, and a 'boot holder' - but someone must have done better because we never won! Tidiness of the hut also counted - perhaps it was for that reason that we lost!

Teddie Cooper would come and visit for a day or two and join in some of the 'fun' - organised games and walks outside, and if wet, games, singing and assemblies in the 'main hut' - which was then the inevitable Nissan Hut which also housed the kitchen.

lloydI don't remember who the cooks were - but at that age, we were more interested in the result than who had produced it. Yet the meals were always reasonable and popular.

There was also a 'shop' at the side of the hut in which we could buy such goodies as postcards of Minehead and the surrounding area, sweets and ginger beer!

Does anyone else have memories of these camps? I visited the Quantocks again recently, and was amazed to find not only the site of the camp, but that it still had exactly the same 'feel' as it had 40 years previously. There were still wooden huts (though these were replacements for the ones I had known), and it still had a 'main hut' - also a replacement. It is still owned (as then) by the Scripture Union, and there were children of the age I had been, running around and engaged in various activities. It's good to see that some things don't change!


Lloyd Silverthorne

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