Camp Mohawk has the pow-wow factorBy Jon Nurse
November 16, 2012
Close to three decades ago, Scouts were given some woodland in Wargrave to help disadvantaged children escape East London’s concrete jungle.
Today, Camp Mohawk runs a day centre for children with special needs on the land, offering archery, music and exciting play opportunities.
Reporter Jon Nurse spoke to the team about how volunteers help keep the charity up and running.
The Camp Mohawk site is looking sharp and fresh after groups and businesses gave up their time to help keep the centre up to date.
The centre off Highfield Lane supports more than 200 families in five acres of countryside, providing activities and space to encourage children with special needs to play, socialise and learn in a secure and caring environment.
Centre manager Luke Jansen said: “We have had a lot of interest from companies wanting to help out for days or to invest in new areas or items of kit.
“As people pay for the equipment and provide the manpower we can keep the site to a high standard for a low cost.
“We are currently looking for sponsors for a Christmas activity day. It’s hopefully coming up on December 8, but it’s reliant on sponsors.”
Last month a team from Microsoft’s office in Earley spent a day revamping an adventure playground area – sanding down and coating its equipment with wood protector before weeding a sensory garden.
Site manager Matthew Wood said: “We were really impressed with the enthusiasm, energy and commitment to the tasks which the team displayed.”
Nick Mayhew, director of Enterprise Sales Operations for Microsoft UK, said: “It was a genuine privilege for our team from Microsoft to experience the fantastic facilities at Camp Mohawk, and to help the incredible team there with some maintenance and gardening.
“We are grateful to Matt and the team for helping us participate and do our bit for the camp, and look forward to coming back again to further help development of facilities.”
In 1973 Newham Explorer Scouts began using the site to take disadvantaged children from the east end of London on trips out of the bustling capital.
In 2001 the camp re-opened as a day centre. Today the centre boasts archery and music sessions, a sensory room, soft play area and outdoor heated pool, adventure playground and art room.
Awareness is spreading of the charity’s work after some high profile appearances both locally and internationally this month.
More than 300 people packed into the site on Monday, November 5, for a fireworks display and the previous day 80 visitors attended a special quiet display that didn’t upset viewers who dislike the louder bangs.
The morning of the big display, the charity was joined by weather forecaster Carol Kirkwood from the BBC Breakfast team who made her national bulletin from the centre.
Mr Jansen, who was interviewed on air, said: “They rang the office to ask if they could do the weather from our place – it was pretty crazy.
“I asked her how far it goes out and she said across Western Europe to seven million people. It was a wonderful opportunity to show what we do, but very nerve-racking.”