EDMOND—Thirty-six teenagers from England, the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa and the Netherlands came to the green countryside hills of Warwickshire, England, from July 31 to August 14 for the inaugural session of Philadelphia Youth Camp-Edstone.
Campers arrived at Edstone Hall on July 31 and spent the afternoon cleaning the building, weeding the flowerbeds and completing other tasks on the campus, which is still under development 21 months after the 77-year-old building and its grounds were purchased as a regional office for the Philadelphia Church of God. Camp director Stephen Flurry delivered an orientation lecture that evening centered around the camp theme, “Building the Family Throne at Edstone,” setting the tone for two weeks of biblical instruction admonishing youths to prove God and His Church for themselves and to study Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The Missing Dimension in Sex.
In leadership class, boys learned about doing hard things, developing mental toughness and becoming renaissance men. In womanhood class, girls learned about the God-ordained role of the woman and the basics of homemaking, which they put to immediate use in flower arranging class and in homemaking class, sewing buttons and camisoles, making dress straps, and knitting. Campers also attended a culture class in which Mr. Flurry played clips from famous operas and encouraged the young people to become develop culture after the example of Winston Churchill, who was an avid painter, and Mr. Armstrong, who sponsored the arts through the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. In speech class, assistant director Brad Macdonald emphasized the Church’s “legacy of communication” to prepare each camper for the responsibility of delivering two speeches.
“The overall format was very similar to the pyc in Edmond, but the smaller size made it feel like more of a family campout,” Mr. Flurry said. “A third of the campers had parents working at the camp, so there was definitely a lot of parental involvement.”
The busy camp schedule extended beyond the classroom, as campers played flag football (for boys), touch rugby (for girls), softball, basketball and cricket; hiked across campus and along the River Avon, including through a portion called Monarch’s Way, where King Charles II escaped in 1651 after losing to Oliver Cromwell in the Battle of Worcester; learned and danced the waltz, swing, cha cha and the Ceili, an Irish group dance; practiced vehicle maintenance by changing the oil and brake pads of a campus car; deforested a marshy area along the banks of Edstone Lake; and ventured to Stratford-upon-Avon and London for field trips.
In Stratford-upon-Avon, campers toured William Shakespeare’s birthplace and home, canoed on the River Avon, ate dinner in a park near the Royal Shakespeare Theater and played an impromptu game of soccer. In London, they saw the Globe Theater and took the Queen’s Walk over the Thames River; viewed famous London sites such as the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster, which includes the Houses of Parliament; saw original paintings by van Gogh, Monet and da Vinci at the National Gallery; and viewed biblically significant artifacts in the British Museum, including the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, the Lachish relief and Lachish letters, Shebna’s tomb inscription, the Assyrian Balawat Gates, the Taylor Prism, and the Cyrus Cylinder.
“One of my favorite experiences was the group trip to London,” Mr. Macdonald said. “Seeing the Globe Theater, Buckingham Palace, No. 10 Downing Street, the British Museum, the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, St. James Park, and Hyde Park—what other youth camp on Earth provides such an opportunity?”