Location and Activities
The Diocese of Sourozh has been running summer camp for its children and young people for over 40 years - in Kent, Cumbria and Wales. In 2001, following the foot-and-mouth outbreak in South Wales, a much smaller camp was organised in Norfolk and was named for St Seraphim of Sarov. When South Wales was out of quarantine and again accessible, it seemed expedient to continue with two camps, one 'old' one in Wales and the new offshoot on the North Norfolk coast. This situation continued for a number of years.
In 2008, St Seraphim Orthodox Camp moved from its previous location in Norfolk to Gloucestershire, to a former farm at the edge of the magnificent Forest of Dean. The farm has been converted into a Youth Adventure Centre and is well-equipped for camping. Besides two large fields the site boasts a barn which doubles up as both the camp chapel, at one end and a general meeting/relaxation area at the other, plumbed-in toilets and hot showers full-size dining room and a fully-equipped kitchen where all the meals are prepared by the camp staff.
The campers are accommodated in spacious tents which are organised in age groups. Each tent is supervised by an over-18 'tent-leader', an Orthodox young adult helper, who sleeps in the same tent as the children. All the staff undergo rigorous safety checks and most are themselves ex-campers, known to the camp organisers since childhood.
The camp runs a full programme of activities, aiming for a balance between structured and free time. The children can choose from a wide range of sports, including football, basketball, rounders, volleyball and the camp's own speciality, tenequoits. For the less sport-minded, there are daily arts and crafts sessions with candle-making, mosaics and tie-dyeing to name but a few. There is a small artificial lake on site and the campers are supervised in raft- building and pedalo-racing. In addition, the campers enjoy a number of outings and there are usually engaging visitors - an 'animal lady' brought an array of exotic animals in 2009, for example - to provide additional educational and entertaining activities.
Every year, the whole camp eagerly participates in the Camp Olympics, the Talent Contest ('Kamp's Got Talent') and a different theme day complete with costumes and sketches. Less eagerly-awaited by some is the annual Big Walk in the glorious Gloucestershire countryside.
Finally, no camp would be complete without regular camp fires accompanied by toasted marshmallows, hot chocolate and an all-camp sing-song!