Over the weekend, I had the amazing blessing of being a leader on the Salvation Army Easter Camp. Running from Thursday Night until Monday Morning, we had an awesome time having fun, learning about God, and making new friendships. The theme for the weekend was Torn, based on the part of the Gospel story that when Jesus died on the cross, the curtain of the temple that shielded the Holy of Holies was ripped in two from top to bottom.
After arriving and registration, we had our first worship session. The worship team was rocking all weekend, and we belted out some fantastic songs. After some ice-breaker games, we separated into our small groups that we would be spending the rest of the weekend in. There were 9 small groups, based mainly in Corps groups, but some had to be split due to numbers. Eventually we started attempting to put the campers to bed. I’m not sure how the girls went that first night, but the guys were particularly difficult to get to bed. But hey, it’s the first night, you’re excited, you want to talk, you’re still finding out what makes your dorm-mates tick. Thankfully, the guys were rather tired after the next days activities.
Good Friday came and started with an awesome breakfast, from the CYC team. They provided awesome food all weekend. We then went off for morning worship, and heard from Edwina, an Intern with the Salvos, who shared her testimony. Then into small groups to discuss the subject of “Personal Access to God” The idea was that before Jesus died, the Jews believed that God was kept behind the Curtain in the temple in the Most Holy of Holies, and only a priest could go in there once a year to make an offering to God. But when Christ died on the cross, the temple curtain ripped in two from top to bottom, allowing us personal access to God.
Then it was onto Morning Tea, followed by an Adventure Journey, a number of short activites which allowed the small groups to get to know each other more, work as a team, and have some fun. There were activites such as Hoop Ball/Netball, Messy Games, Low Ropes, Chair Games, and more. Lunch interrupted these games, and was ended with Afternoon tea. We then headed into the Water Games, where we could see how far we could throw/catch a water balloon without it bursting, see how far we could slide on the water slide, and try dunk someone, or get dunked on the dunking machine. This was capped by a capture the flag style water balloon frenzy.
After some free time and dinner, it was time for the Evening Worship session, where guest speaker, Rowan Castle, Territorial Youth Secretary, would speak. Entering in silence, the Worship team kicked us into action with the tearing of the curtain, and pumped us up for an amazing night. Rowan preached on how much God loves us, and that there’s nothing we can do to stop him loving us. After the sermon, we split up into small groups for a quick discussion, and then when everyone was finished, they departed to get ready for the movie – Up.
Saturday, and the theme was God Escapes. Again, breakfast and Morning Worship where we heard from my mate Christian. It was so awesome for me to hear his testimony and to hear what God is doing in his life. We don’t often speak about how we’re doing spiritually, and it was great to hear where he’s struggling, and where he’s being incredibly blessed. Again, small groups, where we talked about what sort of things we could to to let God escape into our lives. Morning Tea, and then the Big Game, where campers had to go around completing different activities to get marked off, while a group of leaders could come and make them do one of those activities again if tagged. After lunch, we split up and headed into the community for Mission Trips. There were a number of different mission trips, including a Backyard Blitz at a lady’s house in Gosnells, Beach Mission in Rockingham, Car Wash in Mandurah, Tree Planting in Warnbro, and a letter box drop in Baldivis. I did the Letter Box drop, and it was great to be able to spread word of this Church in a new developing area. We had a lot of fun doing it, and completed our assigned areas in such a short amount of time that we went and did another area.
Free Time, Dinner and then our evening Worship, where we shared what we did on the mission trips. It was great to hear what the campers felt of their own mission trips, to see how something so simple can make a difference in peoples lives. Worship was followed by another movie – Astro Boy, as it was a bit wet and we couldn’t do the night games that were planned.
Sunday Morning arrived and I was up very early. I woke up at 4.30am to get ready for the Dawn Service. The Dawn Service script was written by Paul Marion (as it has been for a number of years) and this year it was looking at how the disciples felt between the period of Jesus’ rising and his ascension. Matthew, the tax collector and apostle, had gone back to collecting taxes. He felt rejected from his own people, but it was the only thing he knew how to do. Andrew likewise had gone back to fishing, and felt that he couldn’t see a way forward. Simon the Zealot had taken on the idea of Jesus’ revolution, but turned it slightly violent. Jesus appears to them and tells them that he had never left them, that he would always be with them. He sends them to Galilee, where he will send them out and give them a helper – the Holy Spirit – to be with them always.
Breakfast and then Worship with testimony from Jordan, who shared what God was doing in his life, and how he has been challenged in past Easter Camps. Small Groups then split up and discussed how we are sometimes torn in the decisions we have to make, and how we can turn to God to help us out. Then, being Easter Sunday, we had an Easter Egg hunt after Morning Tea. After Lunch, the guys and Girls split up into different sessions to talk about specific issues. Guys talked about stuff that makes being a Guy difficult, and Girls talked about stuff that makes being a girl difficult. It was during this session that a lot of people started asking questions, and thinking about God. Little did the leaders know what we were in store for.
Electives followed Afternoon Tea, where campers got to choose from different activities. I ran the Guitar Hero elective, where we played Guitar Hero (funnily enough). There was also Craft, cooking, rock climbing and Facebook Chat – in which the group chatted about the good and bad things about Facebook Chat. They later challenged everyone to step out and be different on Facebook, be positive and encouraging always.Freetime and Dinner, and then Evening Worship when Rowan was preaching to us again.
The worship team was awesome and really pumped everyone up ready to hear Rowan. Rowan spoke about how being a Christian is often portrayed as being all easy, soft and fluffy, an easy ride. However, in reality, it’s actually a battle, and quite difficult. Often we get confronted with the choice between Good and evil, and the evil choice often seems easier. He called on us to be dangerous in our faith, to be living out there on the edge. He highlighted three things that keep us from God – Sin, Idolotry and Injustice. He then called on those who were willing to stand and agree to fight against Sin, Idoloty, and Injustice. I’d say 90% of the campers stood. The leaders went to pray with them, and afterwards, Rowan asked who made the decision to follow God for the first time tonight – around 10 campers stood, an awesome decision and so wonderful to welcome these youth into the body of Christ. Everyone, including a lot of the leaders, were on spiritual highs, being encouraged by the words that Rowan spoke, and the decisions that these youths made that night. A disco followed, where we could party, and have some fun.
Monday morning comes around, and it’s time to pack up. Small groups cleaned up certain areas, and then had some time to discuss about what happened this weekend and what they’re going to do to continue in their faith. We then had the wrap up final session to tie things together, and to encourage us on our way back into the world.
For a first time Easter Camper, and a first time Leader, Easter Camp was an amazing experience. Some of my highlights were meeting my small group, and seeing them grow over the weekend; taking part in the Dawn Service (including shooting the Dawn Service in 30 seconds); and having one boy share with me that he wants to become a Soldier of the Salvation Army, his decision to follow Christ, and to share that time with him was an incredibly blessing.
To all those that came on camp, I pray that you will be encouraged in your faith, and that you will not be shaken – as Frizz said “Faith that can’t be shaken, It’s unshakeable, that means you try to shake it but it can’t be shaken” And remember that if you need to chat, your small group leaders are always available, and always willing, and if not – I’ll always be willing to have a chat.
Because of Christ, you have put your trust in God. He raised Christ from the dead and gave Him great honor. So now your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:21