1970 was the first year of the village system.
On arrival your group was split up immediately, and, after having been relieved of all your valuables by the "bank officer" you were sent onto an uncertain mission to find your misterious sounding village somewhere on the (often dark) camp site. There you got assinged to a tent and comforted by a cup of hot cocoa and you were introduced to your co-villagers, still wandering if you would ever see back the friends you made on the trip to camp.
After you had unpacked all your stuff on sunday you got told you had to repack the lot by next morning since you were all going away for a wile. This would usually be to the place where your village was named after.
Monday morning the hall was packed to the ceiling with luggage wile the parking lot would flood with coaches. Village by village would leave by coach and a serene rest could return to the site, not to be broken till friday, RETURN DAY!!!!!!!!!!!
The village system seams to have worked, since it is still around!
click here to view village pictures of 1970
Camp Rules in the 7-ties
The entertainment for the evening would usually be a disco (by Mike Beecher) a movie (usually one out of the "Planet of the Apes" series, the very old ones) or a "Camp Concert".
In the camp concerts staff and campers alike, solo or in groups would display their talents on stage. Returning acts in the seventies camp concerts were:
Gerry Keyes, in the Bandmaster, where he would try to control an invisible orchestra,
Gunnar Eide telling the story of the man that just loved baked beans for every meal,
The famous Onzellos, where 3 staff members with ample beer bellies would perform their acrobatics
A Dutch group acting out the Folksong "Katootje" (the one that Richard is talking about in his memories, see picture below, with me in the middle, Arend Groeneboer to the left and Gunnar Eide - our guestsinger from Norway- to the right)or the Heineken song
and of course there was a lot of music, classical, folk, boogie, jazz.
The fun of practicing for concerts throughout the week was at least half the fun!
There were 2 concerts on the camp and the concert crew would do a few guest performances at a home for elderly missionaries that had contracted leprosy and at a home for severe handicapped young people.
The big tent next to the hall used to be the place to play games, play table tennis, or simply hang around and listen to the jukebox playing songs like "in the year 2525"(Zager and Evans), "in the Summer time"(mungo Jerry) etc. The tuck shop was in a corner of the tent, selling candy bars, soft drinks postcards, and the best milkshakes I ever tasted in my life. There was one special table in the big tent. Campers would write their name on it and the year of their stay and when they would return an other year they would add a new year to their name. This was some sort of ritual for the real "camp addicts".
The Two Tides
After dinner those campers that did not like the entertainment provided for the evening would flock off in a long line to the 'Two Tides" in West Mersea. Half way the seventies this establishment decided they no longer appreciated our "cliëntele". To quench the thirst on the camp, a real Pub Tent was erected!!!!!!!!
A True Plague
One warm, clear skyed afternoon in August 1976 a massive dark cloud approached camp from the direction of West Mersea. It clearly was not one of the meteorological kind ............. When it almost hit us we realized it were zillions of LADYBIRDS! Keeping our eyes and mouthes shut tightly, we ran to our tents to take cover. They were everywere!!!!!!!!
Month later I still found dead ladybirds in my stuff...........
In 1972 we could for the first time print our own T-shirts in the Arts & Crafts tent. This became a big hit and in years to come each village would design their own.
Of course this would lead to one of Reg's famous jokes:
female staff member: I want to order a T-shirt.
Art&crafts officer: What size?
female staff member: You should know!!!!!!!!!!!!
Some Familiar Names & Faces
(S=staff C=camper) The number behind the name corresponds with the number on the picture
Ken Harvey, no picture, Camp Boss, S
Gerry Keys, no picture, S
Dick Brennan, no picture, S
Derek Wilmot, no picture S
Mike Beecher, no picture, and his amazing disco, S
Bob Marsh, no picture, S
Tony Moore, and his family, (late seventies), 1 S
Derek Fenney, alias Big D, and his family, 2 , S,
Reg Miller, and his family, 3 S
Edda Mommaerts, the Netherlands, 4, C, S
Arend Groeneboer, 5, S
Jerry Hughes, 6, S
Rene van Es, the Netherlands, 7, C
Claude Steinmetz, Luxembourgh Group leader, 8, S
John Wiltshire, 9, S
Richard Brennan, and his 12 string guitar, 10, C, S
Annemarie Klaucke, tiny girl, hughe voice, the Netherlands, 11, C
George Schreiner, Austrian Group leader, 12, S
Jean Marsh, 13, S
Eberhard Pengel, Berlin, 14, C, S (in the eighties)
Reg Harris, 15, S
Lotta Loberg, Sweden, 16, C
Margarethe Börressen, Norway, 17, C, S
Dennis Pierce, 18, S
Franz Burgmer, Berlin, 19, C, S ?
Gunnar Eide, Norway, 20, C, S
Thomas Golka, Berlin, 21, C, S
Jane Williams, England, 22, C
Jean-Marie Braconnier, Luxembourgh, 23, C
Fritz "the cat" Fichtenbauer, Austria, The best Boogie player ever, 24, C
Bill Dennehy, England, 25, C
Dees Talma, the Netherlands, Classical guitar "pur sang", 26 ,C, S
Sally Powel, England, 27, C
Nico Welsch, Luxembourgh, 28, C, S
Edda's pictures of the 7-ties
In february 1976, Dick Brennan, the much loved Staff member for 15 years, left for "the eternal Camp in the sky". Family tradition was kept going by his son Richard.
In the summer of 1977 the 12 year old son of our camp cook died of a severe astma attack on camp..............
We hope You'll send us your stories and pictures too.