On Day Six of the “Advent Calendar”
Obviously the way to catch-up on preparation for youth camp next week is to attend the wedding dinner of a couple (complete with classic PSC scholar chalet romance story which would have lit The Old Man’s eyes) whose union we were happy to celebrate. It was a fun one – we carried on the tradition of hilarious charades from the menu…
The dinner also served as a very useful mini pre-camp meeting where quite a bit of stuff got sorted out, over Hardys Mill Creek Chardonnay 2009 and Shiraz 2009 (having just shared a bottle of this with the beef bourguignon the night before, i was excited to be able to identify it before sighting the bottle. Alas, there was no one to share my pathetic triumph. Basic stuff, same strangely short finish or have i been drinking too many French bottles…).
Since these things (and more) are fresh in the mind, brain-dumping them here:
Objective of a Christian Youth Camp
Having examined the evidence, we are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the claims of Jesus – that we are all under God’s wrath for our sin from which there will be no escape except through his own death as Christ, Messiah, Saviour, Lord and God, are true. If Jesus is the only way to be saved from this impending judgement, then it is important to tell as many people as possible. Because God so loved the world, he sent his Son to die for us and he wishes that all will be saved.
Our Motive for Running a Christian Youth Camp
We do not do this imagining that God will thank us fervently on the Last Day, nor do we assume that the more we do, the more God will reward us richly.
As Jesus says:
Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field,”Come at once and recline at table”? Will he not rather say to him,”Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink”? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say,”We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” (Luke 17:7-10)
We do not do this out of spiritual ambition or to stoke our egos by padding our religious CVs. Any plan to share the good news is in itself part of our life as God’s children and servants, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to be saved. But we cannot take credit for any good that we do. Because (1) the harvest is not ours but God’s. For Paul planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (1 Corinthians 3:5-7); and (2) even our good works are not our own doing for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).
Until their children are of age, parents are responsible for them – their lives, their upbringing etc. Therefore, we always ask parents to consent specifically to our telling their children about Jesus, since God will hold parents accountable for them.
As Paul says to the Corinthians:
…we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)
Because it is God who does the real work around here, we rise early to pray. Then a full day of good fun, good food, and good news!
Also because it is God who does the work, we are not aiming for conversions at camp. (When i mentioned this at another dinner, some Christians were shocked – “what? no altar call?”.) The schedule is planned so that there is no brain-washing or emotional or peer-pressure to become Christian. There are talks from the Bible and studies to examine God’s Word for ourselves, and opportunities to ask questions about anything at all. If someone said he/she wanted to be a follower of Christ, we’d probably ask why and if they’ve examined things properly, explain the cost, and tell them to go think about it a bit more. Though important, necessary and of course welcome, it is not a commitment to be entered into lightly.
The lyrics of songs teach as much as talks and so these are vetted for content. No inane or repetitive lyrics like “Jump for Jesus, jump, jump”. It’s ok to repeat songs to give people an opportunity to learn them since many might be encountering them for the first time.
Musicians should not draw attention to themselves by being flashy or by showing off their skills on instruments or vocal chords. (I suppose this goes for the cooks and the gamemasters as well.) Thankfully our musicians and song-leaders have so far been understated and executed their duties plainly, without fuss.
Generally, also useful to run songs by the people giving the talks to see if they are actually appropriate that context.
Campers must be well-fed. Hasty decisions wrought from bad food or, worse, from starvation, are not what we want! Good home-cooked food (taking into account various food allergies and dietary requirements) is where it’s at.
Campers should also have adequate rest, in comfortable conditions – in Singapore this invariably means clean toilets, hot water in the showers, and air-conditioned bedrooms. They must be in top form to think clearly about what they are hearing during the day.
We want the campers to have fun, so games should be things we too would like to play. No stupid ice-breaker games like wacko or boring management-style or team-building games that consulting firms like to use in their interviews, please. And in any case, it’s really terrible to hear teachers/leaders snigger as they get students/campers to do degrading things they wouldn’t do themselves – where’s the love?
Also no games that encroach on personal space or generally make people uncomfortable (though most will already have been caught by categories above); no Twister, no pass-sweets-from-mouth-to-mouth (quite unhygienic!), no bob-for-apples whether in water or a plate of flour (unhygienic too!) etc.
And certainly no ragging of any kind.
We love making fun of ourselves and it’s a good laugh. However, we would be circumspect about making jokes at the expense of scampers or campers, or about things about a person that he can’t help (eg. personal circumstances, his/her God-endowed appearance, handicaps…).