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The first BACKPACKERS was held in 1991.  This came about when the ‘Local Ecumenical Project’ (an association of Anglican, Methodist, United Reform and Trinity Baptist Churches) formed a committee to explore the possibility of holding a Holiday Bible Club in Chesham Park.  All the churches in the town were invited to send representatives and as a result of their recommendations a joint churches BACKPACKERS Committee was formed which resulted in BACKPACKERS 1991 held on Chesham football ground.

To discover the true origins we have to go back much further, a cutting from the Bucks Examiner dated August 20 1971 tells of a ‘Holiday Club’ run jointly by the Anglican and Broadway Baptist churches.  Over 150 children attended; morning sessions included a serial film and the modelling of scenes from the story of Noah.  After a lunch break the children played rounders, cricket and other games in the park.   The organisers and leaders of this Holiday Bible Club were David and Margaret Goodgame from Emmanuel Church.

However even earlier than, this some 43 years ago (1968)  ‘Parish Life’ the magazine of the Anglican church reported:- 

The call for child evangelism is clear enough in the NT and here in Chesham it has meant, the sound of singing to a guitar, team games, film shows, paper, paint and glue! for this was the week of the Holiday Bible Club.

The aim of Stephen English, a C.S.S.M staff worker, his team of young people and local church members was to give the children a happy time and, above all, to teach them in simple terms about the Lord Jesus Christ and what he did for them on the Cross.

Each morning there were choruses sung to modern tunes, a serial story of Pilgrim’s Progress accompanied by a film strip after which the children worked in small groups to produce a tabletop model of Pilgrim’s journey. Games occupied most of the afternoon.  Then, after a drink and several choruses, there was a period of bible study.  The older children returned in the evening for bible quizzes, competitions and a talk presenting the gospel in a way the children could apply to their lives.

On the Saturday afternoon the church hall was packed with children and their parents for the final celebration.

Sounds just like BACKPACKERS!!

Thanks to David Haddock for supplying this news article and to Pam Leach for supplying the Bucks Examiner cutting and to David and Margaret Goodgame for alerting David to the fact that 2008 was the 40th anniversary of the first Holiday Bible club, or was it?  If you were involved in an even earlier HBC do let us know



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Backpackers is organised by a team of helpers from churches in and around Chesham as part of a Chesham Ecumenical Association. Registered Charity No. 1013519