Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Report from Camp Aramis


A group of us gathered at Ockbrook Settlement for 'Camp Aramis' originally created due to the sad reality of the Greenbelt Festival being postponed nationally once again. Wonderfully, Camp Aramis promised its own identity. It was smaller and more intimate with some fun flexible workshops and trips out in the offering. Our camp base was the beautifully quiet Michael Rea Memorial Garden just paralleling Ockbrook's God's Acre.

We gathered from all corners of the U.K. ranging in age from seven months to those into their thirties. Some of us had camped before and others were complete novices. I think it is fair to say that we all came a little bit nervous, a little excited and all really looking forward to spending time together. I don't think anyone knew everyone and so, as we gathered that first evening after we had all pitched a tent to varying degrees of success, we just wanted to get to know one another as best we could.

Food is always a good way - and so our first group meal of 'pizza' began, catering for all dietary requirements. We filled our hungry tummies as we each began to learn a little about one another. All of this was overseen by a toddler who kept watching and learning about how this might in some way relate to 'being church'.

Some of us retired to bed earlier than others who stayed up playing games and making merriment in Ockbrook Church's Hall, our not camping 'base' where over the next few days we would eat, reflect and pray together.

Sr Claire Maxwell, Chelsea


On Friday, we began our day by eating breakfast together and joining in with morning prayers.

After prayers, we played some outside games. I thoroughly enjoyed becoming competitive and learning new games that I can share with others to enjoy in the future. The games involved teamwork, laughter and spirit.
A guided take time meditation led by one of our campers enabled me to feel relaxed. During this meditation it involved relaxing our bodies, listening to a story about God and having the opportunity to speak to him! After this experience, we took time to reflect on what we spoke to God about and which part of the meditation we enjoyed most.

In the afternoon, we ventured out to grab some ice cream. During the walk, all campers engaged in conversation and reflecting on our personal experiences for example university, work and church experiences. I tried some wild berries along the way and was pleasantly surprised at the sweet taste. At the ice cream shop, there were so many flavours to choose from! I ended up with a tub full of raspberry and white chocolate ice cream and wild berry sorbet. I have never experienced these ice-cream flavours before, but I thought it was fitting that I should try something new.

In the evening, my favourite part of any day is dinner time! Especially when it is one of my favourite meals ... chilli! Homemade by Kathy Singleton, who is an excellent cook. Dinner time is my favourite time of every day due to spending time together, reflecting on our day and learning more about each other.

Later that evening, we had a campfire which involved marshmallows ... yummy! Being around the lit fire felt relaxing and mesmerising, I enjoyed watching the fire and seeing the flames grow. All campers sat around the campfire in a circle and we enjoyed each other's company. We shared and listened to each other's stories and joined in with conversation.

This experience allowed me to fully relish what nature has to offer. As a newcomer I felt very welcomed and enjoyed sharing this experience and have made new friends and developed lifelong bonds.
After having a year of isolation and anxiety of socialising with others, this felt like a perfect way to ease into socialising again and develop my knowledge of God.

Sr Sophie Jackson, Ockbrook


Our plan continued on in its laid-back fashion throwout Saturday. Our morning was spent eating breakfast, followed by our daily morning prayer session and then assisting Br Joachim with some input into the Sunday service and the YouTube service. The weather was extremely kind to us all weekend, and this was seen throughout our Saturday with its Summer-esque sunshine and warmth. This made fulfilling our plans ever so easy and reminded me of the love and grace offered to us by God in our day to day lives with each other.

Service preparations completed and with some of our campers back from a walk to the park, we had lunch together and then set off to Derby. Here a group of us took part in a 'Murder Mystery themed' walking tour of the city. As someone from Derby this was a great way to explore the city, some of its history and show everyone around. There were definitely parts I had not seen before. We banded together and within a few hours had successfully completed our mystery - rounding off the trip with refreshments sat on the grass outside the Cathedral.

Back to the Settlement and after dinner (thankfully supplied by Sr Michele and Clare Battelle) we sat together in the hall and shared in some time of fellowship and discussion. Sr Hannah Cooper had put together a fantastic study which we all had input to with our own thoughts and experiences. Following this, we split as a group with some of us heading to the local pub whilst the others returned to the campsite. Our discussions continued heartily in both places and we all reunited for the last few hours around the campfire.

Br Phill Battelle, Ockbrook


We woke on Sunday morning to wonderful weather once again. We gathered together for breakfast in the Hall before heading over to Church where we were received with a warm welcome. Br Joachim had invited us to take part in the service around the theme or idea that everything we do or say has consequences based on the Bible passage of James 1:17-27. Some of our group acted out situations such as pretending to fight or argue with one another versus talking civilly and with grace and empathy. Br Phill, Br Louis and Sr Sophie all spoke about how some of their choices in life resulted in positive outcomes that got them into either jobs they loved, courses they enjoyed at University or enabled them to have experiences they wouldn't have had without taking that first initial step or action. Sr Claire and Sr Phoebe led prayers. After the service we gathered for a group photo before a quick lunch followed by packing up our tents. We all left Ockbrook having experienced amazing Moravian hospitality and feeling more connected I think as a Moravian family.

Sr Laura Wood, Fairfield

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