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Easter Camps 2024: On Tour with Alana and Sarah!

Easter Camps 2024: On Tour with Alana and Sarah!

Easter may have come early this year, but Salvation Army young people and youth leaders from across New Zealand made it to camp right on time!

Once again, The Salvation Army gathered together with thousands of others at the now iconic camps run by Baptist Youth Ministries (BYM) in the north and Canterbury Youth Services (CYS) in the south over Easter weekend. Territorial Youth and Children’s Secretary (Next Gen Coordinator) Lieutenant Alana LePine and Leadership Development and Communications Coordinator Sarah Bridle joined with 4000 young people and youth leaders (including 250 Sallies) at Mystery Creek in Hamilton, and then made their way down to Spencer Park in Christchurch, to drop in on the 3000 (with 55 Sallies) gathered there.

God at camp

Alana explains that the ‘solid teaching we’ve come to expect and the great conversations during small groups combined into that special kind of faith formation you just can’t replicate elsewhere. So many young people have life-changing experiences at Easter camps. These sorts of significant moments and encounters with God steer them for years to come.’

Sarah adds that ‘as a leader at camp you get to journey with a young person over a few days, and that extra time opens up powerful opportunities that don’t come so easily when you’re only meeting for an hour a week at youth group.’

Stay connected

Sarah and Alana want to encourage campers with some important truths that will be helpful in the weeks and months following camp.

‘As you settle back into normal life, it’s important to remember that the God who showed up at camp is the same God who will meet with you back in your local space,’ explains Sarah. ‘And the leader who listened and had those impactful conversations with you at camp is the same leader who is available to connect with you at youth group. Easter Camp is special, there is no denying that, but even though it may feel like God can only be found at camp, that’s just not true.’

Sarah adds, ‘I know it can be difficult when you go back home if your Christian circle is small, but that’s the real beauty of being part of The Salvation Army! You’re part of something bigger and we’re all on the same team! Get together with other youth groups and catch up with the people you met at Easter Camp. Come to Youth Councils and Amplify!’

‘Stay connected!’ urges Alana. ‘If the relationships you formed at camp go beyond your youth group, then stay in touch. You have the technology—follow us on Instagram! You have an identity that is not just about your local corps but also the wider Salvation Army.’

Camp highlights

There were some Southern Easter Camp classics on show—the Big Top, the Ferris wheel and the camp night life. There were astronauts and tin foil hats, and the annual sports tournament where the combined Salvation Army team rocked at volleyball! A special mention goes to the beloved ‘Toastie Shack’ which served up its last toasted sandwich ever at camp.

Northern Easter Camp highlights included the youth-led service, tribal wars, the ‘silver-screen’ disco, the mud pit, the waterslide, the reflection space, all the Tinas from Turners (Johnsonville Youth Group), and the Palmy Princesses.

Alana says, ‘We need to mention Zac Millar from Palmerston North Salvation Army who was chosen to be in the worship team for the youth-led service at Northern Easter Camp. Zac was also the MC for the service along with Grace Satherley, also from Palmy. It was so awesome to see our young people up on stage and also to know that several other young people from Palmy were working behind the scenes on the tech side of the service. We all felt so proud!’

Seen, heard and included

Springboarding from the excitement and success of the youth-led service at Northern Easter Camp, Alana asks local corps leaders to seriously consider how young people can be seen, heard and included in their local space.

‘We want the next generation to be seen, heard and included, so how can we walk alongside our young people, prepare them and give them opportunities? Are we giving our young people the chance to lead worship or to preach? Are we willing to develop them and give them the platform in what should be a safe space for them to have a go and grow? How are we nurturing our young people? We don’t want to just throw them in the deep end either! We want them to thrive in these moments because they know they are supported, loved and being encouraged to continue to grow.’

Food for thought

Sarah and Alana do have some culinary feedback for camp caterers. The pair enjoyed pie and nacho day at Northern, but when they arrived to yet another pie and nacho day at Southern? Not so much.

Alana and Sarah’s tour of the Easter camps may have had its challenges, but they had a ball!

Alana: ‘Same again next year, Sarah?’

Sarah: ‘Absolutely, Alana!’

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