After a long season of isolation and gathering limitations, Summer Camps across Australia brought some relief to hundreds of restrained juniors and teenagers. But with COVID still part of our realities, adjustments and cancellations had to be made to comply with the always-changing restrictions.
Out of the nine conferences in the Australian Union Conference (AUC), one, Greater Sydney Conference, had to cancel their event due to the sudden COVID outbreak in Sydney’s northern beaches. The other eight conferences were able to run their Summer Camps, having to walk extra miles to adjust to restrictions.
With all the uncertainty to organise an event during a pandemic, the Conference Youth Departments did everything they could to not miss one of the most important evangelistic opportunities of the Church.
“Summer camps are so important in the life of the junior and teen. We believe that the Holy Spirit does in six days what can sometimes take years to do in their lives. We see so many lifelong decisions for Jesus Christ made at summer camps. All of our youth ministries teams around Australia see the running of summer camps as vital for the Church,” says Jeffrey Parker, AUC youth ministries director.
From all the camps run in Australia, more than 426 teens and juniors requested Bible studies and 298 manifested their wish to be baptised. What makes Summer Camps such a unique evangelistic method for the youth is the opportunity to present Jesus in a fun environment where they make lifetime memories. There are also many non-Adventists, which makes it a great opportunity to introduce them to Jesus.
In addition to all the fun activities like abseiling, archery, horse riding and other fun things, the campers also have dedicated times for worship and spiritual talks. Austin Schmitz, a 12-year-old from Newcastle, went this year to his first Summer Camp, in Stuarts Point, NSW. He points out that what makes Summer Camps unique is the spiritual environment.
“I loved all the activities and the fact that we had all our friends there, but we love going there because it’s not just a normal camp. It is spiritual focused,” says Austin. His brother, 15-year-old Xander, adds that it was very special to have a prayer before every activity.