We hardly have to say it: COVID-19 has changed everything.
And that includes the many youth camps Scripture Union NSW (SU NSW) holds around Australia, helping kids and teens to discover and grow in the Christian faith.
Hope 103.2 listeners will remember how, in late 2019, we partnered with Scripture Union NSW to launch the ‘Kids To Camp’ appeal, raising funds to send more than 500 kids from drought-affected families around NSW on life-changing camps.
Not surprisingly – like everything else right now – those camps look a little different this year. SU NSW has had to rapidly adapt to the current COVID-19 conditions, and find new ways to encourage young people in their relationships with one another and God.
While sadly many of the camps that were planned for 2020 have had to be postponed or cancelled, some have been moved online – with a portion of Kids to Camp funds being made available to help young people who need it the most to participate.
“Some camps may go ahead in their real, face-to-face format, in the next school holidays – albeit with social distancing restrictions and limits in place.”
Some camps may be still allowed to go ahead in their real, face-to-face format too, in the next school holidays – albeit with social distancing restrictions and limits in place. These camps will most likely be predominantly rural-based, due to the extra COVID-19 risks in Sydney, and potential travel restrictions.
Scripture Union NSW’s regional co-ordinator for Western NSW, Reverend Andrew ‘Parko’ Parkinson, said their young leader’s camp was recently held online with great success.
“18 kids from as far afield as Tamworth, Armidale, Albury, Dubbo & Orange logged in to our Leadership Conference Online for Bible studies, workshops, electives, games and activities, and to learn how to lead lunchtime groups in their schools,” he said.
“Green Everywhere” After Rains on Regional NSW
In other good news, the Kids to Camp students we met and interviewed last year in some very dry and dusty country parts of NSW, are now enjoying much greener pastures – literally.
Andrew Parkinson said it was heartwarming to see so much green on a recent trip to Tottenham, the geographical centre of NSW, where he spent time on a property called ‘Talgong’ (part of the original ‘Overflow’ station of Banjo Paterson’s poem, Clancy of The Overflow).
“This is where we hold our “Ag at The Centre” camp each year,” Andrew said. “Six moths ago it looked dry, dusty, empty dams, hungry stock and not a skerrick of green… Today the dams are full, crops have been planted and there is green everywhere.”
He was quick to explain that this doesn’t mean the impact of the drought is over.
“It could take years for farmers to recoup the losses incurred during the drought, to get out from under years of debt and to rebuild stock numbers to pre-drought levels,” he said. “But the smiles on farmers’ faces are so heartwarming.”