Nigel was deposited at Camp by his wicked uncle at the age of 11 and, apart from a year or two overseas, he has attended every camp since. He initiated the Annual Hermanus Girls Camp, which takes place at Wortelgat, before moving back to the light and taking the helm of the AHC as Commie in 2020.
Known for his energy, liveliness, humor, and eccentricity (although only half as crazy as his brother, Dave), the camps he leads are bound to be fun and enthusiastic. In the past, he tended to get involved in arranging centenary banquets and being a Past Adjutant, passing sage comments on the running of camp to exhausted incumbents who politely ignore the said advice. Now he has the opportunity to take his own advice directly, as Commander-in-Chief. His favourite expeditions are the big ones of Rocklands, Stanford and Dangers (although increasingly only half, and certainly not together!). A sailor at heart, one may also find him skippering voyages on the vlei, or rousing up crewmates in song when the wind drifts wearily.
On relaxed evenings at Camp, he can be found at sunset hanging onto his favourite trig-beacon overlooking the wonderful expanse of beach, vlei, camp, and mountain.
I am, and have been, an avid camper and supporter of Camp since 1966 which was my first camp. The Rev Wakeling was the Commandant then, and it was a small camp with something like 25 members of the “Circle”, about 12 Staff Officers, and Main Street varying between 5 and 15. Prior to coming to the camp I had been taken to the “Dimple” site any times and gone to sit on the rocks in the setting sun, to see the boys coming in from their day’s outings, with my father, Alric. The picture of the Camp had been painted for me by the time I was eight or nine years old. The colour of evening with the sun lowering into the west, pink, cobalt, and orange. These pastel colours, all merging into the landscape of water lightly lapping on the shore, the weed-banks and wading birds, all quiet in the lazy movement of evening air.
Being a Simpson meant keeping the responsibility of making sure that I never left a task only half-tackled, and to drink thirstily of the opportunity afforded by proximity to such an unusual, individualistic, strong-hearted group of men. Laughter and blisters went together on any day. Enthusiasm and energy, on each of those long days, was met with the deepest of sleep that a young boy could have achieved. Learning to sail, walk, play, participate, help, think, innovate, and respect others, and also, just to keep going.
I was Adjie for three or four years from the age of about 20, after having spent “Staff Officer” years as the likes of “Earl of Hampton Court”, the “Commander of the Flotilla”, “Boundary Officer”, “Assistant Sub Adjutant”, and since have shouldered the approximate office of “The Marquee Man”.
Countless expeditions to the top of Rocklands (Maanschijnkop) (at least an average of 1.5 per year since about age 14), and to the small docking spot of Stanford, lie deeply among rich memories cast around the unique landscape known in the minds of those still present, as in the legends of those whose souls have gone steadfastly before.
There you have it, my friend. A sketch of Mark Simpson, Family Man, Farmer, Conservationist and Camp Enthusiast.
Murray was the sterling Commandant from 2006–2019. While in that role, he kept a watchful eye over Camp. A Camp song puts the role well: “Here’s to good old Commie, who takes the place of Mommy.” His contribution included regular communications with the Adjutant; making sure the Backstreeters do their various jobs energetically; liaising with the Vlei Master (disciplinary officer); convening and presiding at the High Court of Parliament (where summary trials are heard and justice is dispensed); ensuring that Cookie has enough ingredients; that the Sea Lords had enough spare parts for the boats; the Earl of Hampton enough toilet paper; and many more ad hoc duties which crop up.
His late father was a Circle member in the 1930s and attended Camp until the year before he died. Murray was a tent leader in 1973. His son (the bagpipe-toting Wookie) was in the Circle and Back Street. This Camp is in his blood and bones.
A consistent Camper since the age of about 12, except for a few years. I enjoyed the leadership skills that Camp taught me as a Tent Leader and Backstreeter. My sailing skills from sail racing outside Camp brought me the title of Rear Admiral during Backstreet, then Sea Lord in Mainstreet. A Quartermaster for three Camps (very stressful, feeding 70 men); apparently they chose me because I'm so organized, but I slipped up on including too many mothballs while storing food between two Camps. And I once suggested rooibos tea instead of hot chocolate because I was so concerned about costs, but Hoogie responded that he would sooner pay for the hot chocolate himself! I've trained some younger campers with sailing skills, especially with the leaky Extra (and I repaired the rudder on the Extra, and sometimes take sails in to the sail factory for repairs).
I took over the new song book development from David Gwynne-Evans and oversaw the printing of the red songbooks, after the older yellow ones with plastic jacket covers were eaten by rats. Murray Bridgman as Commie was a great motivation behind the new song book.
Nic Simpson as Adjie collected digital photographs at Camp on the Camp laptops, and was the previous webmaster. I used those photos in our Google Drive, and photos later on by Aidan Morton's DSLR and from Dirk Hoffman Snr, to put together the current digital photo albums in Google Photos. I continue with this hat of organizing photos, and I have printed a brown medium-size photobook, which can be printed again. I assist with our website maintenance and Google Drive.
A beautician dentist from KZN, Roy finds that his main role at Camp is to inspect toes moreso than incisors. He has however performed a tooth extraction under local anaesthetic outside his doctor's tent, with a small crowd of young spectators.
He oversees our covid-19 response.
Cookie is good at feeding hungry boys.
A viticulturist by trade, Aidan Morton has arguably the best sense of humour at Camp, and is excellent at organising boys and keeping traditions going. He has three strong children who attend Camp, and is part of the heritage of our Camp, having joined in on general naughtiness while in Backstreet and Lower Mainstreet himself.
I am counsel for the prosecution in the High Court of Parliament where we regularly try guilty backstreeters and dispense justice on the hop. I am also a very keen singer and regale the concert with compositions that would make Cacofonix wince. Bodysurfing is a personal favourite, flippers are advised.
As a native Natalian (now KZN), Richard Ferguson never attended the AHC as a member of the circle, but was introduced to the AHC through the attendance of both his sons who thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted hugely from, attending the camp for a number of years. He was lulled into accepting the position of Treasurer by a silvery tongued member of the AHC committee who “asked if he would look after the bank account for an interim period while they found a Treasurer” which he later discovered was exactly the same fate that befell his predecessor of 40 years standing, Keith Richardson, in 1974. Richard has strived to optimize on Keith’s, minimalist but appropriate and effective style of treasury management, but to date has not been successful in this regard. He notes however that the camp does not appear to have any trouble in maintaining its sound financial position due to the ongoing generosity of its many and varied supporters and benefactors.