By Gisele McKnight
According to DJ Wolverton, 12, there’s always something fun to do at Camp Brookwood.
The member of the Parish of Wicklow, Wilmot, Peel and Aberdeen has enjoyed five summers of his young life at the camp, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I like that there’s always a lot of people here so you can make new friends,” he said.
Among the pool activities, games, camp fires, music and nature walks, DJ has chosen a favourite and a close runner-up from all that Camp Brookwood has to offer.
“Capture The Flag is probably my favourite,” he said. “And I like Stacy’s cooking.” (Stacy Carmichael is the camp cook.)
DJ and his family were part of a large crowd of about 65 who came out Aug. 26 to celebrate the camp’s 50th anniversary. Music, games, tours, nature hikes, swimming and a meal were the highlights of the afternoon at the diocesan camp in Florenceville-Bristol. Bishop David Edwards, after spending a week at St Michael’s Youth Conference in Bouctouche, drove across the province to Camp Brookwood to share in the festivities.
Everyone got an authentic taste of camp life during the meal, when someone was caught red-handed breaking a long-held camp rule, prompting a rousing verse: “Mabel, Mabel, get your elbows off the table. This is not a horse’s stable. It’s a first-class dining table.”
DJ admits he usually gets caught on the first day of camp, having to get up, apologize and sing the elbows song — all in good fun, of course.
Last fall, Camp Brookwood’s board of directors launched a fundraising campaign to raise $16,000 through the winter to cut camp registration fees by half. Through a lot of fundraisers, many at the parish level, and individual donations, the goal was surpassed and the results were obvious this summer.
“We filled all our camps,” said Mary Lee Phillips, board chair. “When we didn’t have campers show up, we called people on our wait list. I think we even managed to get almost all of the kids on the wait list here.”
With the fundraising and an $8,000 grant from the New Brunswick Children’s Foundation, budget planning was much easier.
“We take everyone,” she said. “We don’t deny kids. But this year we knew the cost was covered.”
The busy summer saw 167 campers at Camp Brookwood, a jump of more than 33 per cent. The camp usually takes one group of campers from the Inner City Youth Ministry in Saint John, but this year was able to take two.
While each camp week was full, there are no grand dreams for a bigger camp or a longer season.
“We’ve been rebuilding and rebounding over the last 10 years, but we’re not looking to expand the number of cabins or the number of camps,” said Mary Lee. “That’s what we pride ourselves on — small camps.”
During the anniversary day, many people with deep ties to the camp dropped in to reminisce and see old friends.
Gary Hoyt was a board member for 10 years after retiring from the Royal Bank of Canada. Now his grandson enjoys summers as a camper here.
“To me the children are everything,” said Gary. “I get the most enthusiasm out of the ability to offer children from the Inner City Youth Ministry a week at camp.”
Cindy Derksen attended the celebration, having been a chaplain here one summer.
“I think it’s a wonderful experience for kids,” she said. “It’s a small camp and that’s very important to its atmosphere. And it makes memories — faith-oriented memories.”
The Rev. Bob and the Rev. Canon Bonnie LeBlanc were on music duty, but they have a close relationship with the camp as chaplains.
Peter Martin and his sister, Jan, were on hand for the afternoon, and they also have a strong connection to Camp Brookwood. Their mother, Peggy, was the cook when the camp opened.
“We were the first campers,” said Peter. “We slept in army tents. We had a lot of good times here.”
Over the years, Peter helped develop the camp, delivering the chapel from Four Falls.
“I brought it down the highway,” he said, adding he also built the bathrooms and an addition on the kitchen. He, too, served on the board of directors.
His mother’s grandchildren and, now, great-grandchildren attend Camp Brookwood, coming from Saint John and St. Andrews.
The Woodstock Bugle-Observer newspaper sent a reporter to cover the event. The Dun Roamin’ Duo of Syl Amos and Martha Allison entertained on guitar and vocals, along with Bob and Bonnie LeBlanc and Dal Brown.