Cameron Bryant exchanged dairy farming for full-time gospel ministry—and he’s loving it. The 22-year-old grew up on his parents’ dairy farm in the Northern Rivers of NSW, and he spent three years working on the farm before beginning a ministry apprenticeship through his church this year.
“I grew up going to church,” Cameron explains, “I don’t have a moment in time where I thought, ‘This is when I became a Christian’, but there were lots of things that happened throughout my life that grew me in my knowledge of God and grew me in my conviction of my own sin.”
Those ‘things’ Cameron refers to largely include the influence of youth ministry in his upbringing. It was during one of the regional youth group camps that Cameron felt convicted about taking his faith more seriously.
“It was then that I realised that I want to actually dedicate my life to serving God,” Cameron says.
Cameron’s church, Southern Cross Presbyterian Church in East Lismore, is part of the newly renamed Northern Rivers PY Camp (previously called YC). In one form or another, Northern Rivers PY Camp has been happening for decades on the North Coast. It sees youth from across the district join together in a camp that at its core wants to see God’s Word taught to teenagers in a way they can understand, that helps them grow in knowing Jesus, or to come to know Him for the first time.
“I actually think one of the reasons that this camp is so important is because not all the youth groups are huge around this area,” Cameron explains. “A lot of them might have a dozen to two dozen people—or even fewer—who come along. So one of the things that I really liked going through as a youth was meeting people my age who I could grow a relationship with, and I’d see them a few times a year, plus spend a weekend together with them.”
Having grown up being regularly encouraged by the camps, Cameron became one of the youth group leaders at his church as soon as he graduated from high school. He’s now one of the people who helps make the camp happen.
Making camp happen
“Organising a regional camp is not an easy task,” Cameron says. “I’m very ‘on the ground’. I can help organise who’s going to be leaders in what groups, and who’s going to help organise the games, but there’s a lot of stuff that I can’t do. So PYNSW reached out to offer assistance.”
Cameron doesn’t take that assistance lightly. In fact he doesn’t know if the camp would have happened post-COVID without the involvement of PYNSW.
“Following the 2022 floods in Lismore, people were just drained—emotionally and mentally. For a lot of people, being able to work on this camp on top of their regular job would have been quite unachievable.”
This year’s Northern Rivers PY Camp was held in March. Luke Doyle, in his fourth year at Queensland Theological College, gave a series of talks from the book of 1 Peter.
“It was all about how we don’t belong to this world,” Cameron explains. “Our home is with God, but we’re here now. And so we were trying to wrestle with that, because we are exiles. How does our faith in Jesus actually impact us now as we do live here, waiting to go home?”
Cameron was deeply encouraged not just by the way the teenagers engaged with the Bible talks over the weekend, but how it has impacted them longer-term. Months after the camp had finished, Cameron was mid-conversation with one of the members of their youth group when the teen brought up the theme of exiles from 1 Peter.
“It’s a really good camp,” Cameron says. “I am continually surprised by how good it is, and by how it successfully grows followers of Jesus each year, every time we catch up.”
Cameron can’t stress enough how grateful he is for the support PY has given.
“Who knows if the camp would have even happened this year if PY hadn’t stepped in to help us,” he says. “If you’re prayerfully and financially supporting PY, you’re in partnership with our ministry. And it’s super important—the goal of this camp is to grow followers of Jesus. We want to see the youth across the region hear the good news.”