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The SVP St John Bosco camp provides an opportunity for children to have an exciting, activity-packed camping holiday in the Essex countryside.
The SVP St John Bosco Camp at Brentwood was closed during Covid and is going to be closed for one additional year in 2022. The St Vincent de Paul Society regret the disappointment this may cause but looks forwards to welcoming young people back to camp in 2023.
When the camp does reopen in 2023 it will be known as The Vinnie Camp, Brentwood, in line with a Society wide policy regarding consistent naming of projects. The Society operates a number of residential children’s Summer camps and they will all be known as Vinnie Camps, just as all of our Support Centres are now branded St Vincent’s. These changes have been introduced across the Society over the last 2 years and are being applied universally. Where there are multiple projects in the same area, the names of other Vincentian saints may also be used to distinguish between the projects.
It is also important to the Society that all of the Camps and the helpers on camp, identify as Vincentian. The St Vincent de Paul Society is an international organisation, dating back to 1834, which has a rich heritage, and which, at all times, seeks to put its charism of service at the heart of all it does. As the Society in England Wales continues to evolve its services to meet the prevailing needs in local areas, it is important that all involved see themselves as a part of the Vincentian movement, whether engaged in our core conference work or in our projects or other works, whether a member, a volunteer or a paid staff member. In that regard the consistency of naming celebrates a unified identity and mission.
Another important policy change is that from 2022 onwards there will no longer be girls and boys camps: all Vinnie camps will be mixed. Adult helpers and leaders on camp will also mirror this change, providing both male and female role models to young people on our camps and encouraging healthy respect and interaction. The opening of some of our camps may be delayed while they make provision for these changes, both in terms of infrastructure and human resources.
The SVP St John Bosco camp in Brentwood has operated for many years under the name of the John Bosco camp and over that time many young people have had wonderful, life affirming experiences thanks to the amazing volunteers who have given their time to work on camp year after year. Indeed, some of those who have attended camp as children have returned to help on camp as adults. When the camp reopens in 2023 as Vinnie Camp, Brentwood, the St Vincent de Paul Society hope that many of those who have contributed to the success of the John Bosco camp will continue their association with the camp in its new form. As before, the Society will hope to be able to offer young people from the Dioceses of Arundel and Brighton, Westminster, Southwark and Brentwood the opportunity of a week away and planning for 2023 will start shortly.
In the meantime, fundraising will continue for all of our camps as usual, and opportunities are being sought to build in sustainability where possible where the camps are owned by the Society. Options are currently being considered in Mablethorpe, Holy Island and Brentwood as to how the sites might deliver an income to support the national camp programme, whilst maintaining or indeed improving the facilities and opportunities each camp can offer. In some cases, this will represent a significant capital investment in these sites.
The Society’s thanks go to the camp leaders and volunteers who have over the years given so much to the SVP St John Bosco camp in Brentwood, in particular, the most recent committee who have contributed to the raising of standards nationally through their representation and sharing of best practice at the national Camps Committee. We hope that many of them will wish to be involved again with the SVP Vinnie Camp, Brentwood.
During 2022, the Society’s new Head of Young Vincentians and Youth Services, Sarah Barber (formerly Director of Brentwood Catholic Youth Service), will work with a small transition working group, which we hope will include some members of the former John Bosco committee and some newcomers, to prepare for the relaunch of the camp in 2023. Over the year we hope very much to meet with as many of those as possible who have volunteered with such dedication in recent years and build with them for the future, bringing much needed holidays to children for decades to come.