Our Anchor, Sail and Compass
A Farewell to Bill Bowker
Bill Bowker, an active committee member since the inception of the Camping Association of Victoria (CAV), died in June 2000 after a long illness. Bill was also the Vice Chair of the Steering Committee of the International Camping Fellowship and a friend to camping world-wide. The following elegy is re-printed from the CAV Newsletter.
Bill attended the 1982 conference when the CAV was just an idea and he sustained the idea personally and professionally through committee service, twice as Presi¬dent. In later years he also actively promoted interna¬tional exchanges through the International Camping Fel¬lowship.
Many people would know, Kangaroobie is an open house. It’s an open house to newcomers to the industry seeking help and guidance, to travellers, to young people, to those needing comfort and support. For people wondering about getting in to camping, Bill was generous, offering insights into the successes of Kangaroobie, encouraging them in their ambitions. Bill firmly be¬lieved that a healthy camping indus-try would be achieved by many strong campsites - big and small -and he gave practical help to any who sought it.
For Bill, the CAV was not just a labour of love. He be¬lieved it ought to lead, not simply react to the issues. The journey from Kangaroobie and return was made countless times in the name of the CAV - for logos, meet¬ings, conferences, more meetings, staffing, even more meetings, directories and accreditation. There were cri¬sis consultations and leisurely discussions and the dis¬tance from Kangaroobie didn’t seem to matter - Bill was always there.
We’ll miss all of that at the CAV as well as his welcom¬ing grin and a cheery hello. We’ll miss his tales of white water rafting in Africa, sleeping in railways stations in Japan or snowshoeing in Canada.
For the CAV, Bill was our anchor and our sail and our compass. He wouldn’t let us forget why the CAV ex¬isted but he could see a vision that often hadn’t swum into the thinking of others. He pushed us on into new realms when we thought we couldn’t take it further and there was always a new corner to be turned, a new star to be pursued.
In the last few years and particularly in the last few months, Bill provided a touchstone against which to meas¬ure our own values. Despite his illness, Bill seemed to face each day with a determination that fate would never catch him. Of course, it finally did and at a memorial service on June 11 hun¬dreds of friends acknowledged the power of Bill Bowker in their lives, It was a Bowker-style mixture of mes¬sages from friends at the International Camping Fellowship, respects and yells from Powerhouse and Lord Somers mates, poetry by Tennyson and songs from Monty Python. Many CAV friends were there to recog¬nise not only Bill’s contribution but his delightful and enduring friendship.
Through it all, Bill has been supported and sustained and loved by his family, Jenny, Kezia, Matt and Sophie.