Christ Faith Service

Reflections on Summer Camp Online 20/21

By Rebecca Stephens

2020 was a hard year for everyone involved, so what better way to finish it on a high note than with PYV Summer Camp Online. After so many unexpected difficulties, changing of plans and separation from friends and family throughout the year, it was a blessing to be able to bring our thoughts and days back to focusing on Jesus and all he has done and will do for us.

Of course, an online camp brings many challenges. How do we do activities through a screen? What will studies look like? Won’t singing alone in our bedrooms be awkward? How do we still engage in fellowship with one another when the majority of the time we’re muted? And don’t forget the endless potential for technical difficulties.

Well, I’m happy to say that each and every one of these challenges was met and overcome by our fantastic convenors Zack and Bec Grace and their exec team, as well as all the camp leaders. With patience, hard work and prayer they were able to create an amazing camp that each and every one of us were able to enjoy.

We would kick off each morning with a session conducted on Zoom, in which we were able to sing together, hear encouraging testimonies, and listen to Nello Barbieri’s talks on Zechariah. The talks focused on the promises of God to his people to bring them back to Himself, forgive their sins and give them cause to celebrate and live in joy. A beautiful message, but not one that came without its challenges as well.

Our activities and study groups were the same, which allowed us to spend more time together as a group and get to know each other on a deeper level. The studies were conducted in breakout rooms on Zoom, and allowed us to think and talk through what we had learned during the session, and apply it to our day to day lives.

In activities we found ourselves forced to save the planet from an alien invasion, and to do so we had to establish communication with said aliens. There was only one way to do so – through memes! We created memes, deciphered memes, played a game of Codememes, did our best to make it through the Google Docs escape room, and got Rickrolled a couple of times along the way.

Activities were followed by The Late Show, with Matt and Aradie (aka Smooth and Snazzle), in which we hung out, chatted and rated a lot of memes. The Zoom chat would explode each night into heated debates about which were the best memes, plus some good old PYV banter between campers.

The sheer amount of questions received for the Q&A session was a testimony to how engaging and thought-provoking Nello’s talks were. Being able to begin the new year with a prayer time in our study groups was a great encouragement. Seeing the memes that campers and leaders alike were able to create out of their pets, the talks and oh so relatable situations never failed to give me a laugh.

While I pray our next PYV camp will be in person, I am incredibly grateful for the experience that was Summer Camp Online. May the Lord’s light continue to shine through these camps - wherever they are - into the lives of those who attend. Seeing the way that God is working through His people, I have no doubt they will.

During Summer Camp Online some youth were able to come together in 'Face-to-Face' gatherings at different locations around the state.

Nick Attrill is the youth leader at Warrnambool Presbyterian Church and he recently led a group that gathered in North Geelong for PYV Summer Camp Online.

Here are some brief comments and a photo from their 'Face to Face' gathering:

We all really enjoyed the talks by Nello and the bible study materials. It was a hectic week but a great week of seeing the youth engage with God's word. We noticed the young people tackling their own belief in God and if they really do believe in Him or not, and how then should they live that out in their lives. 

Many of the youth said that they really enjoyed looking at Zechariah which was something they had never read before or studied, so they really enjoyed the challenge. This could be also seen by the increased attention they paid during watching the talks and during the bible studies.

Reflection on Summer Camp 19/20

By Elisabeth Roberts

Well, this year's Summer Camp was definitely an eventful one. We had it all: 40°C weather, high fire risk, smoke haze, a brief storm, a 15-hour power outage, and a cursed prank in one of the boys bathrooms (which was all dealt with rather coolly by our phenomenal convenor Caleb Schulz). But through it all everyone stayed safe, and the potential disasters led to some great times of fellowship.

On the evening of day four, after hiding inside from the skin-melting heat all day, we suddenly lost power—back-up generator and all. This meant a Q+A session in the dark and the unfortunate cancellation of The Even Later Show with Shady and Di. It seemed like a pretty unfortunate situation, but ended up turning into one of the best nights of camp.

After Q+A everyone started to congregate on the deck outside the dinning hall in the dim light of dusk, chatting and enjoying a very welcome cool change. It started to trickle with rain, but no one was fazed, it was still nicer outside than in the stuffy buildings. Someone put on music and people started dancing and singing along. (The key demographic of the camp became quite obvious when everyone started belting out the chorus of Country Road, and when over a hundred kids were stomping their feet in unison to the Nutbush.) Instead of spiralling into disaster, our loss of electricity seemed to bring everyone together. It was an entirely impromptu night, but ended up being memorable for all the right reasons.

Among the unexpected occurrences one thing stayed consistent this camp: God’s word was faithfully taught. We were blessed to have Andy May deliver six gospel filled talks on what God’s will is for our lives. We were reminded each day that ultimately God’s will is for us ‘to know Jesus: Maker, Manger, and King’ as well as how to apply that truth as we make decisions like: ‘who should I marry?’, ‘where should I live?’, and ‘what should I study at uni?’.

Andy was able to bring such a big scary topic to a simple relatable level. I was so encouraged chatting with campers over the week, during studies and in free time, about how they were wanting to shape their lives and decisions around their relationship with Jesus, and their desire to know Him better.

After such a wholesome week, we finished things off on New Years Eve with a murder—facilitated by our activity coordinators Ben and Isaac. It was their crescendo to a week of board game themed activities. Luckily, the murderee didn’t seem super bothered by the situation and, after frantically running around the campsite in search of clues, we found the murderer. I’m not sure what happened to them though, they may still be at large somewhere at Forest Edge...

Anyway, it was a great camp, (I did definitely have a lowlight though: the return of Climb, Climb Sunshine Mountain. It should have stayed dead, how dare you Noah Patterson.) and as we move into a new year of PYV—a new decade of PYV—I look forward to being a part of more fun, Jesus filled camps and events (and Sunshine Mountain disappearing into obscurity once more).