Nicole Callen is a long-time Uniting Church SA member and is the Family & Children's Worker at Unity Hill Uniting Church. In this article (the final part of three), Nicole shares stories of her current involvement in church camps.
Stronger than the storm
By Tom Mitchard
New Times Intern
Posted in Family
It was the worst storm South Australia had experienced in 50 years. Rivers were flooded. Buildings were destroyed. Supermarkets were emptied out. Strong winds tore transmission towers out from the ground. The entire state was plunged into darkness.
But not even a storm could prevent South Australian youth from worshipping God.
The ground was damp, and the camp had to wrap up a day early due to the wild weather that would blow through on Sunday night. This didn’t stop the exciting experience of SAYCO for the many campers who stayed overnight at Woodcroft College on 1-2 October.
Speaking at four sessions during the camp, Katie Iles, a worship pastor at The Journey Uniting Church, brought plenty of passion and charisma to SAYCO. Following the camp’s theme of “STRONGER”, Katie spoke on a number of topics, including humanity’s weakness, becoming strong through Jesus’ grace, and overcoming fear with God’s love.
Katie was joined by the Ignite worship team across all four sessions, as well as performances from the drama team, games with this year’s “squad” (formerly “tribe”) leaders, and the camp MCs, Mike, Chloe and Dan. Even Uniting Church SA Moderator Dr Deidre Palmer and General Secretary Rev Nigel Rogers joined in the fun, as they participated in a game of Charades with Dan and Chloe.
Over the two days, campers were also given the opportunity to participate in a number of workshops and activities, including an ultimate Frisbee competition, a movie-making workshop, a Q&A with the worship team, and a poverty simulation game.
Previous years’ Tribal Games were rebranded as Squad Sessions. Although the usual flour and shaving cream free-for-all was absent, the squads got to compete against each other in a series of sport-based challenges, including a classic tug-o’-war. Campers also enjoyed the Nightlife party, which featured a live DJ, popcorn, games, and plenty of dancing.
But SAYCO isn’t just about fun – it’s also a life-changing event. It lets youth expand their communities, strengthen their friendships, and grow in their faith. It gives them an opportunity to come to know and choose to follow God. A number of youth gave their lives to Christ over this year’s SAYCO weekend.
What may be even more amazing, though, is that the camp went ahead at all. The week leading up to the camp was plagued with storms and blackouts, and it looked like the entire school oval would be flooded. But the oval was dry enough to camp on, the sun shone brightly, and there wasn’t a drop of rain during the entire camp.
Surely this was a weekend of grace. Even though the state had experienced some of the most disastrous weather it has ever seen, God poured out his love on these youth so they could experience a massive community of His people joining together in worship.
Being able to be a part of SAYCO 2016 was a blessing for the many people who participated. Hopefully next year’s camp will be filled with even more fun, more life-changing experiences, and decidedly less rainy weather.
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