I remember attending my first youth camp as a young Christian, and the overwhelming feeling of security and community it gave me.
Here were lots of other people my age who liked the same music I did and had similar hassles with their parents (and church) that I did, and also who expressed a whole range of joys and challenges about being someone who followed Jesus as a teenager. The knowledge that I was a part of the bigger family of God that extended beyond my family or the congregation I attended was enveloping. It gave me so much life and distinctly helped shape my understanding of ministry with young people.
These kind of camping experiences changed (and saved) my life.
This love of gathering and learning saw me attend two NCYCs as a young person (Toowoomba ’91 and Canberra ’93), a plethora of Presbytery camps, a couple of State Youth Congress meetings in Queensland, and as I got older it led me to getting involved in helping run a number of youth camps at a Presbytery and State level.
I knew the benefits of coming together with other young Christians and building relationships with them – and the leaders who loved us to bits – and I wanted to be a part of creating some of those ‘mountain top’ experiences for other young people that so radically developed and formed me.
The late nights talking with others and learning from them. Gaining a fresh and new understanding of who Jesus was. Engaging in activities with these new friends that stretched and challenged me. Being confronted with new theological takes that I hadn’t come across before and discussing the implications in small groups. Even having to navigate loving someone who held a different position on Jesus to you. Identifying significant moments where God called me on to greater things…all these things take place at youth camps, and they transform lives.
If you spent any time close to the church in your youth, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
I’m fortunate that in my role this passion is channelled into part of PULSE’s approach to resourcing and supporting ministry with young people. Our rite of passage approach offers gathering opportunities for young people in upper primary to attend our annual KID’S CAMP OUT overnight experience, while offering high schoolers who are taking their first steps into youth leadership a safe place to stretch into this ministry.
In the upcoming September holidays our first ever camp for high schoolers in grades 7-11 UNITING YOUTH CAMP (UYC) will run at Vision Valley with a bunch of young adult (and older) leaders as we together look at issues of developing our identity in Christ. Off the back of that we’ll run our first HSC STUDY CAMP at The Collaroy Centre for Year 12s to help them prepare for their HSC/International Baccalaureate exams, again supporting them holistically through community, tutorial groups, practice exams, conversations, and plenty of great coffee. Our Young Adults are welcomed into our annual RETREAT YOURSELF gathering in early February where they can further develop community and engage in the reality of growing as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Feeling a part of a something bigger.
Singing songs louder than ever.
Talking about everything and nothing all at once.
Sharing your struggles with people who understand you.
PULSE are committed to working with leaders of young people to develop these events to challenge, grow, and develop them and their faith.
These camps represent a fabulous opportunity for those that fondly remember their youth camping experiences or those who know the difference it makes to stand on the mountain top and see a new glimpse of the Kingdom and how that charges you up to make a difference for Jesus in your world.
PULSE have recently established the Send a Kid to Camp fund which allows donations to come from individuals or congregations to directly support young people to attend these camps. This is a critical partnership opportunity for everyone to participate in ministry with young people—your donation can make a difference in one young person’s life (or many!) by subsidising or even covering their registration fees so they can attend, lifting their eyes and helping them see they are a part of the bigger family of God.
If you know high schoolers who would benefit from attending UYC, get them to register today at https://pulse.uca.org.au/uyc. Got some Year 12s in your life? Encourage them to sign up for HSC Study camp at https://pulse.uca.org.au/hsc. We’d love to have them participate and you know they’ll have a great time.
If you’d like to make a donation to PULSE’s SEND A KID TO CAMP program, use the details below to deposit your gift:
BSB: 634 634
Account: 100 046 230
Pastor Steve Molkentin , Young Adult ministry lead & Senior Pulse Field Officer