What's This Venturer Camp All About Then?

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Biblins campsite, which we took over two years ago from the Forestry Commission, will stage a major youth camp this summer: Venturer Camp 2019, when the 18 acre site plays host to 400 of our young members.

Hundreds of Venturers (Woodcraft Folk members aged 13-15) will be together for a week from 3rd August, for a programme of events which will include activities around sustainability, arts and crafts, and peace.  A radio station at the camp will broadcast regularly to those participating, providing an opportunity for young people to get direct hands-on experience of radio skills.

The Woodcraft Folk’s Venturer Camps are generally held every three years and are organised and run by young adult members of the organisation, in partnership with the Venturers themselves.

Mike Lawrence, Manager of the Biblins Youth Campsite, says: “We’re absolutely delighted that so many young people will be enjoying a week of camping in our beautiful location in the bend of the river Wye. This is the first time that the Woodcraft Folk has been able to host a large-scale event on its own campsite, and we’re looking forward to introducing young people from around the country to our beautiful Gloucestershire countryside.”

Since taking over Biblins, volunteers have transformed the facilities on the site, including undertaking tree planting and installing solar powered lighting for the toilet blocks. A crowdfunding campaign, launched on Midsummer’s Day this year (June 21st), aims to raise funds to rebuild the old Bunkhouse, a feature of the campsite which is now dangerous and unsafe for use.

Mike Lawrence says: “There’s a real sense of things moving forward at Biblins, thanks to the voluntary efforts of so many people. The campsite here has always been in a superb location, but we know that, with a little TLC, we can make the experience of camping here an even better one.”  Biblins offers camping facilities throughout the year for other youth organisations and group camps.

It is appropriate that the 2019 Venturer Camp is coming to the Wye valley, since it was here in 1933 that Woodcraft Folk hosted one of its first mass camps. We were founded in 1925 and by 1933 were sufficiently developed to organise an ambitious three week International Camp, held just north of Biblins at Symonds Yat.

Appropriately, too, the philosophy of the 1933 camp is very close to the aims of this summer’s Venturer Camp. “The Mass Camp is to be a holiday, but an educational holiday,” said the camp booklet of the time.  It added: “The Folk is a practical organisation. Its members camp regularly and hike winter and summer. They learn to be self-reliant – they learn to camp, to cook their own food, to look after themselves in the open. We call it learning by doing.”

It is a sign too that the world has failed to tackle crucial issues in the time since 1933 that the issue of peace, a major preoccupation at the original Mass Camp, remains one of the topics to be tackled at the 2019 camp.

Pip Sayers, Chair of the Woodcraft Folk’s General Council and one of the camp organisers, says: “Youth voices are key to the whole event. A committee of Venturers has been meeting regularly to discuss such things as the menu on offer and the workshops and activities.” 

The organisers are also hoping for clear nights, often a feature at Biblins, not least because the individual camp ‘villages’ are being named after stars and constellations. “Lucky Venturers will be residing in Diphda (the second frog), Alpheratz (the horse’s navel), Betelgeuse (Orion’s armpit), Polaris (the polar bear) and Camelopardalis (the giraffe),” Pip Sayers explains.

“There will be something for every Venturer to enjoy,” he adds.

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