By Howard BarnesThursday 31 Jan 2019
In December, Hope 103.2 listeners dug deep to help send more than 200 teens from drought-affected regions, to summer camp. Kids from around the country have just come home from Scripture Union camps at Chaffey Dam near Tamworth, and Pindarra Dam at Inverell. And they had a blast. The following article by Howard Barnes was first published in Tamworth’s local paper, The Tamworth Times.
If you were to design the ultimate holiday activity for teenagers, you’d prescribe full-on fun. You would build a community where relationships were positive and affirming.
You would be aiming to leave the participants with something of lasting value.
Enter, Chaffey Watersports Camp! A full-on experience of high-energy activities in the water, blended with a no-nonsense interactive dig into the meaning of life. Scripture Union’s Chaffey Dam camp near Tamworth in January brought all of that and more.
Late in 2018, Sydney radio station Hope 103.2 put out a challenge to its listeners: “Let’s see if we can send kids from drought-affected NSW to a camp that will change their lives.”
And the money came in. Thousands of it. So when Chaffey Camp began on January 7, there was a record 180 campers from as far as Gilgandra, Port Macquarie and Alice Springs. But in spite of the huge growth in numbers, leaders said the program went as smoothly as ever.
One leader put it this way: “It’s seeing kids try new things and have a great time. It’s seeing kids encounter God for the first time, others growing deeper. It’s knowing that it’s all going to have a lasting impact.”
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“I felt like God has set me free.” ~ Hannah Griffiths
Sixteen-year-old camper Hannah Griffiths said: “Chaffey was a time when I saw God at work in me as well as others.
“There were people there who came with hard hearts. It was wonderful to see God softening their hearts and planting seeds.
“I’ve sort of been a Christian for as long as I can remember. But in Year 8, I realised that I needed to step out from my parents’ faith umbrella and became a ‘live-it-out’ Christian.
“There’s something unique about living for a week in a Christian community. You feel accepted. It is truly liberating.
“I felt like God has set me free.”
Editor’s note: 180 campers attended the Chaffey Dam Camp and a further 35 headed to Pindari Camp at Inverell. Surplus funds that weren’t used this summer will help kids from drought affected areas get to other Scripture Union camps in 2019. SU camps include sports, games, music, camping out, Bible study and Christian ministry.