The History of the New Forest Christian Camp

The idea of taking the youth away for a week camping and having fun alongside teaching from the Bible, commenced many decades ago.  In 1963, Gordon Birss, alongside, Ken Hester, Bernard Deacon, Terry Jones to name a few, became the back bone of the commencement of the ‘youth camp’.

The first camp: ‘Onslow Road Boys Camp’, Stuart Trimmer a young boy of 9 years old was keen to be a part of the camp and is still a key part of camp today in his mid sixties! Stuart attended with his cousins, Roger and Peter Brind and other family friends from the Gospel Hall: Robert and Malcolm Ratcliff; Gerald Reilly and Bernard Deacon (a local butcher) who was the speaker and accordion player for the first camp.

The camp was at first situated in Tunbridge Wells and then it moved to Wendlesbury, near Bicester, Oxfordshire.  Then to Minehead, where the tents and marque were donated by another organisation closing down. The white marque we used last in 2019 and will be used again 2021. Back in those days it was a boys only camp and the boys were transported, (health and safety, out the window) in a ‘spud lorry’ sitting on top of tents and luggage as they went, a bit different to the shiny coaches of more recent years!

In the late 1960’s early 1970’s, Ken Hester, Ken Cline and Ron Turton went on a search for another site in The New Forest. They came across a certain Mr Curtis, a Christian farmer, on the Perlieu Farm, Ogdens, where we are now situated.  He allowed an old caravan to be used in the corner of the field for the kitchen and storage, also some of his barns were allocated for additional storage.   Stan Burdett from Northampton was the speaker for many years at the farm. His long sermons and hearty laugh resounded around the fields, along with chorus singing, upheld on a large scroll of words mounted in the centre of the marque, where the screen is situation today.

In 1977, the camp became mixed and ‘the girls’ arrived! Betty and Peter Feben, Ruth and Ken Hester and Lois and Terry Jones were assisted by many other younger helpers, to have the camp at the same week, in an adjacent field.  (No electric fences between them) But, Betty Feben was a force to be reckoned with, when it came to any physical contact with those male species!!!

We joined as a whole camp in the year 1980. Renamed ‘The New Forest Christian Camp’  Mavis and Andy Doohan, Stuart and Fiona Trimmer and Martin and Julie Shaw, then Rosie and Keith Hughes, alongside others who assisted with games, Neil Feben and Stuart Trimmer  Sian Feben and Fiona Trimmer in the kitchen, a shed was built by permission of Mr Curtis. These NFCC leaders of the 80s and 90s are the leaders who inspired the current leaders of NFCC and gave so much love and dedication to camp. They have been an encouragement and had such an impact on so many campers over the years.

Many speakers have encouraged us over the years, Gordon Curley, Darren Major, Lional Clargo, Josh Mills and most recently for eight years Rob Payne. In 2021 we will be joined by our new camp pastor, Paul Roast.

Many we know have come to know Jesus as their Saviour and friend in that field at camp or because of camp, one in particular who comes to mind, Colin Nicholls, who now with his wife is serving God in Africa, in his fifties. Many lifelong friendships have been made and in some case marriages!

In 2007, we had another updated kitchen built by the fantastic NFCC maintenance team, as storage during the year and the kitchen throughout the week of camp. The maintenance team are always finding jobs big and small to do while on camp to keep the kitchen and the showers in the best condition, including recently taking up the whole kitchen floor to replace it while the cooks were trying to prepare meals for around 100 campers! Roll on 2021 and beyond, here’s to many more years of camp and of fun and praising God in that much loved field in the New Forest. 

Written by Fiona Trimmer


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