Yorkshire Christian Camp
In 1946 two men from a local assembly in West Yorkshire decided to try a weekend camp for a few boys, with the aim of encouraging them in spiritual things. Being deemed a success it was repeated later that year, and lengthened to a week. The next year a ‘mixed camp’ was held, and thus begun a work that has continued each year ever since.
Initially, the camps were held twice a year, in August and at Whitsuntide before the latter was settled as a regular week in 1952. In the years that followed the camps were held at various sites in Yorkshire: Stanbury (near Haworth in Bronte country); Knaresborough; Ingleton; and Cawthorne (near Barnsley). In 1956 the Camp went to Matlock in Derbyshire before returning to Ingleton for a settled period from 1957 until 1968. Ingleton, in the Yorkshire Dales, provided beautiful countryside with Ingleborough in full view of the campsite and several waterfalls nearby. In these early days marquees were used for for sleeping and another one for providing an area for meetings and dining. Later, as funds permitted, small ex-army tents were purchased, which made erecting the camp much easier!
Food rationing was still around when the camps began and the children often brought items of food from home. The work was tremendously blessed by the Lord and by the mid-‘sixties about 150 children were attending the camp regularly. The gospel was routinely presented and many young men (believers in the Lord Jesus) were encouraged in presenting the word to the campers; many of the current gospel preachers in Yorkshire began their ministry at the camp in this way. Apart from the occasional years when visiting evangelists were used, this has remained the case over the lifetime of the camp.
From 1969 until 1980 the campsite was at Howden, near Goole, where the farmer was a Christian, and the numbers attending the camp expanded. During this period at Howden the camp developed to see many families attending and it became necessary to meet the spiritual and physical needs of a wide range of people. Tents sleeping ten to twelve people became the norm and this provided oppor-tunities for some young people to become more involved as ‘tent leaders’. By this time the numbers attending camp had grown to over three hundred.
When this farm was sold by the owner in 1980 the camp moved to a site in Nottinghamshire for two years before returning to Yorkshire in 1982 – to the grounds of a stately home – Nostell Priory (now owned by the National Trust). A year later the camp moved to North Duffield, near Selby, where it remained for some eighteen years before the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2000 forced it to move elsewhere. By this time the numbers attending had topped four hundred and it became necessary to limit future camps to this number. During the time at North Duffield a charitable trust was formed to look after the assets of the camp and to seek out a permanent site.
After one year at a site near Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire the camp found a permanent home in Misterton, near Worksop in Nottinghamshire – though not far from the border with Yorkshire. The first camp was held there in 2002 thus concluding a long search and much prayer as the logistical problems of moving the camp and re-erecting it each year were very large. The new permanent site has a large barn, a twelve-acre field and a number of small run-down buildings. The barn has been successfully adapted to provide a full kitchen area for catering and dining, and two of the small outbuildings renovated to give washing-up and storage facilities.
The camp routines are well established with plenty to occupy the children and young people including sports and craft activities. Each morning and evening the gospel is presented during meetings that initially provide much enjoyment before the campers are challenged with important spiritual issues.
The site at Misterton has yet to be fully developed and a small, loyal band of workers sees to the maintenance each month. Currently, a project is under way, following planning permission, to establish upgraded toilet and shower facilities to replace the temporary ones. The trustees are grateful to the Lord in that He has made available sufficient funds to enable the foundations to be laid and the steelwork to be erected. The project continues with the trustees confident that the Lord will move in the hearts of His people to ensure that the remaining costs are fully met.
From humble beginnings in 1946 the Lord has been seen to graciously bless a work that has now grown and continued for over sixty years. Only God Himself can tell how many lives have been touched in that time, how many souls saved (including the author) and how many assemblies blessed. The continuing work is a testimony to the vision and initiative of two men who saw a need, and to the abiding goodness, grace and blessing of a wonderful God.
For enquiries concerning the work please contact:
Keith Clayton, 108 Sheepwalk Lane, Townville, Castleford, West Yorkshire, WF10 3QE.
Tel: 01977 555221;