Easter Camp: Early Mornings and Easter Rex

Easter Camp: Early Mornings and Easter Rex

Youth from all over New Zealand—including our own young people—recently gathered at Northern Easter Camp at Mystery Creek in Hamilton and Southern Easter Camp at Spencer Park, Christchurch for an epic weekend of activities, worship, speakers and much more. (Read more from the perspective of the Leaders)

Northern

Thousands gathered in tents, caravans, camper vans and under marquees for the weekend Northern Easter Camp, all coming together as one in the auditorium for main sessions.

The camp theme was ‘Awaken’ and one of the ways they played to this theme was through the ‘Wakey Wakey Show’, where two people went around waking youth up at 5am and filmed their response.

Some of the activities included the annual tribal war antics in main sessions, with one of the most memorable being a teddy bear surfing through the audience, which resulted in its head being pulled off!

This year, the stage was in the middle of the auditorium, so it was more interactive with the audience gathered all around it. In addition, a youth band performed songs on the Saturday night session.

Other activities outside of sessions were the op shop ball, food stalls, a vintage store, merchandise store and an outdoor stage with a talent show. More adventurous activities included a dunk tank, mud pit, waterslide and super tag.

Youth could attend seminars on various topics, such as experiencing the Holy Spirit and a workshop on songwriting.

Youth Web and Resource Developer Georgia Eilering has been attending Northern Easter Camp for eight years. She said it’s one of her favourite times of year because ‘it’s so foundational for young people going to Easter Camp and learning about the Easter story’.

The Salvation Army Central Division youth groups made the trip up to the northern camp, so both central and northern corps were together in the one camp.

The Salvation Army had a lounge-like marquee, with tables and chairs, blankets, lights, charging stations and a Hamodava coffee cart. It was a space where youth could both relax and make connections.

This year, it was many young people’s first time at an Easter Camp and so there was a bigger focus on making sure they felt that camp was a place to belong. 

Georgia said this year Northern Easter Camp focused on follow-up conversations, particularly after young people decided to give their lives to God in main sessions.

‘They encouraged you to talk to your youth leaders, to go and have a conversation with them. I think that opens the opportunity for growth and expressing something in a way of getting words out, which is probably hardest for young people to do.’

Southern

Southern Easter Camp had its usual carnival theme, with the Big Top marquee for main sessions, and a time for worship, speakers and seminars in the afternoons.

Worship in the main sessions was led by Southern Easter Camp’s band Satellite. The speakers covered various topics in the sessions and seminars, including the role of women in the Easter story.

Although there were lower numbers than previous years at Southern Easter Camp, the camp organisers still thought big and had plenty of activities and exciting main sessions throughout the weekend.

Activities included carnival-related ones such as the Ferris wheel and hurricane carnival rides. Other activities consisted of ice skating, sports (basketball, touch and volleyball), a talent quest, spelling bee, horizontal bungee run, and a bike emporium with different kinds of quirky bikes, such as kangaroo bikes.

A toastie eating contest at the Toastie Shack on Saturday determined who could eat the most toasties in one go.

‘Easter Rex’—a dinosaur in place of the traditional Easter Bunny—made an appearance entertaining the youth and giving out Easter eggs.

As a result of Easter Camp being cancelled in 2020 and 2022, many of this year’s attendees were first timers. This meant building a new culture with a new group of campers, and there was a lot of excitement in the air.

‘This was the first time some of our young people were in an environment like this and worshipping in a space like this,’ said Divisional Youth Secretary Lieutenant Stuart Duxfield, who coordinated The Salvation Army space at camp.

At the main sessions, the young people and leaders from different corps rallied under a huge Salvation Army flag that was waved in the sessions, which stood out in the busy marquee.

Outside of main sessions, a Salvation Army marquee was also set up as a hospitality area. This provided the base for many activities, such as card games, table tennis, foosball and air hockey. They also had small groups which happened after the main sessions, where corps would split off into smaller gatherings to debrief and pray together.

Stuart reflected on this Easter Camp after the uncertainty due to Covid-19 over the past few years: ‘It was just so exciting to be together again as one community, as The Salvation Army’.

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