History of Camp Mohawk

In 1973 the Newham Explorer Scouts were offered the land on which Camp Mohawk now stands to take their disadvantaged children from the east end of London (Beckton) on trips away from their 'Concrete Jungle'. In the woodland outside Wargrave they learned to cook, build and to care for the forest around them.

A chance encounter with the father of a child with Downs Syndrome lead to the first camp in 1976 for both Scouts and for special needs children from a local hospital. For two summers the camp ran and was an enormous success, so much so that several years later the hospital set up their own camp at a nearby park.

The concept of having Scouts from a disadvantaged area caring for special needs children was a powerful idea and the Scouts sought out children who lived at home rather than in hospitals and took them for weekend and summer camping breaks. Having children who were totally dependent on the Scouts was a wonderful experience for both the Scouts and the children; teaching the Scouts social responsibilty and enabling the children to get out into the community.

In 1980 the 'Woodland Centre Trust' was formed as a registered charity covering the London Headquarters (Beckton Activities Centre) and the Woodland Centre (Camp Mohawk). Camp Mohawk became a registered care home and the respite centre for special needs children, which became a regular feature until the year 2000.

Ian Cotton wrote a book about Camp Mohawk entitled Summer of Hope, I believe that it is now out of print, but if you are lucky enough to find a copy it is a beautiful portrait of this history of the camp.

In 2001 the camp re-opened as a day centre, providing holiday activities for children with special needs. In term time it is a venue for special needs support groups and schools.

This year the charity underwent a formal legal split and Camp Mohawk and Beckton Activities Centre became independant of each other. Camp Mohawk retained the legal charity name of the Woodland Centre Trust. Beckton Activities Centre still acts as an activity centre which provides hands on workshops in computing and mechanics offering qualifications and support to disadvantaged young people.

Camp Mohawk continues to this day as a day centre for children and young people with learning difficulties. The centre is ever evolving and new history is being made year on year.

I have compiled this history as best I can from documents in the Woodland Centre Trust Archives. If anyone has further information or questions please email Chris Wilcox (Centre Manager).