• Thu. Jun 23rd, 2022

Midnight parties, mountain biking, games galore! It’s all about this summer camp that has 100 years of Sunderland history

ByDebra J. Aguilar

May 17, 2022

Register to our Wearside Echoes newsletters. A monthly roundup of our best retro tunes

Get ready for midnight parties, games, laser quest, mountain biking and more.

And the call for people to come with us hasn’t just gone to budding new campers. Organizers of the Woodsmoke event would be delighted if veterans from previous events show up, including one of Sunderland’s best.

An annual ten-day attraction has been held every year since 1912, with only the war years breaking the record.

Camp Woodsmoke will be back this summer.

Register to our Wearside Echoes newsletters. A monthly roundup of our best retro tunes

Now the camp, which attracts up to 100 youngsters, is planning its 100th meeting and Sunderland resident George Ford has said it is due to start on Tuesday July 26 this year.

The camp, which is held near Hexham, Northumberland, has its roots in St Gabriel’s Church, Sunderland.

George said: “It just seems like yesterday that the question, ‘Are you going camping?’ was unleashed on the streets of St Gabriel’s in Sunderland.

“My first memory goes back to the spring of 1959.

A more recent view of the camp.

“In the 1960s and early 1970s there were regularly up to 100 campers on site.

“Over the years, many campers have followed their fathers and even their grandfathers to Woodsmoke Camp.”

George added: “It will be great to have many former campers visiting this 100th event. We always have Visitors Day and this year it is Sunday 31st July.

“It would also be great to have new campers who have been encouraged by older former campers. In particular, we are looking for potential campers who can keep this wonderful institution running for another 100 years. In short, we repeat this again well-known phrase. , “Are you going to camp?”

Camp Podex competition in 1924.

The event was the brainchild of clergymen at St Gabriel’s Church, Sunderland.

It was B Lasbrey and Gordon Vining who had the idea of ​​organizing a summer camp for the boys of the parish. He never looked back.

The children first gathered at a site near Saltburn, but the camp moved to Seaton Point on the Northumberland coast until after the Second World War when the Tyne Valley near Riding Mill became its base .

A view of the camp in the 1980s.

It was started as a boys’ camp with boys sleeping in bell tents each led by a tent officer. A large marquee is used for meals and entertainment. There is a kitchen with high quality food prepared by two former campers. The daily routine hasn’t changed much since those early days with similar sports competitions.

Tent trophies compete for one, the “Camp Pot” was introduced in 1921. Football, tent storage and an unusual game called Podex are also held.

George added: “Incidentally the rock star, Dave Stewart, won the Podex trophy in 1964 and he was also a songwriter – his first gig!”

Read more

Read more

Tell us about the events you are organizing to celebrate the…

Summer camp organizers.
The sign says it all. This year’s camp is underway in July.
Camp duties in a bygone era.
Time for Podex in 1964.
Enjoying boys camp in 1939.
The camp “potty” which is one of the trophies the boys compete for during their stay.