More than 100 teens had a week of fun and spiritual growth at the annual North New South Wales Conference (NNSW) Youth Summer Camp from January 16 to 22 in Yarrahapinni, NSW.
According to NNSW youth director Pastor Dana Howard, the aim of the youth summer camp is to provide an opportunity for teens to hear Jesus. “One young girl has grown up in the church her whole life and has never had a Bible study. She has had her first Bible study here in the mornings and wants to be baptised,” he shared.
From this age group, 19 have requested baptism, 20 are interested in Bible studies and 25 seek mentorship, with more decisions made separately in the junior and teen camps.
Tony Bentley, a member of the Kingscliff church, has been attending NNSW summer camps for more than 20 years. “[This week] has been an absolute blessing. The youth that have come to this camp are so invested; they are just so hyped for God. You can see in their eyes that they are just so open to being taught and spoken to and learn and just accept who God is and what He has done for our lives,” Mr Bentley said.
Campers began each day with a combined morning devotion led by Pastor Josh Kross. During the mornings, campers had a choice of multiple activities, which allowed them to learn and enhance their skills. Choices included abseiling, watersports, mountain biking, horse riding, snorkelling and a range of other activities.
The night programs were a particular highlight for most campers. These programs featured worship music, vibrant icebreakers with a spiritual application, testimonies from campers and staff, a message led by Pastor Kross and a drama to conclude the night. The theme of the camp was “All in”, and campers were encouraged to accept the invitation to experience the fullness of God’s love by giving Him their all.
For 15-year-old first-time camper Abigail Hammond, it was refreshing to be in an environment where teenagers could worship together without the feeling of being judged. “I knew it would be a Christian camp . . . but I didn’t realise how committed people were to God here. I thought [everyone] would just go along with their own thing and pretend that [God] doesn’t even exist, but everyone here is so into it,” she added.
NNSW young adults director Blair Lemke explained that summer camps are more than just a fun week for our youth. He said summer camps are “an evangelistic campaign for young people . . . A lot of people think evangelism is for those out in the world, but we need to reach our kids and a lot of kids have not had an experience with God. We bring them here to give them an authentic personal experience with Jesus Christ.”