Starting it Up
Cheryl Gillard is a member of Charlestown Presbyterian Church and has been doing Youth Ministry for the past eight years there. She first became connected to Presbyterian Youth NSW (PYNSW) when her kids began to attend the PY Summer and Winter Camps, but her personal involvement started when she attended the youth leadership training sessions – PY Encourage Express.
The training sessions gave Cheryl an opportunity to be involved with other youth leaders in the Hunter region, and to train and learn alongside them. It was right here where the brainstorming began.
“Through the PY Encourage Express events, we had Hunter region representatives from five different churches, and we all sat down at lunchtime and thought, I think we could do our own PY camp. We ended up having preliminary meetings with a few of us and got together, we set a date for the camp to happen and then COVID-19 hit”, Cheryl said.
Because of COVID-19, unfortunately the Hunter PY Camp had to be cancelled, but after a few years, the team was able to get together again to make it happen.
“It didn’t stop us”, Cheryl said. “We met up last year and flagged it again. We all agreed that we could do it, and that it would be worth a go. So, we did!”
“We met monthly over Zoom to organise the camp. It’s so great that we have technology that allows us to do that. It saves a lot of travel time, and we can spend more time praying together, organising, and just putting it all before God”, Cheryl said.
Seeing it all come together
“The highlight was seeing the kids so enthusiastic to attend the camp and come along and participate in the program. This included excitement to sleep in tents that we were generously loaned to us for the duration of the camp” Cheryl said. Cheryl noted the great encouragement it was for the youth to meet with other like-minded Christians and broaden their horizons.
“It was a mix of ages that attended but to see the excitement and enthusiasm on the younger group of kids was exciting. All the ages worked together, and it was just really encouraging. For the 24 hours that we were together, they all participated and had fun.”
The camp started on Friday night with singing and a Bible talk by Jarrod McNaughton who travelled from Tamworth to speak. When it came to the next day, Cheryl said the team wanted to see how much fun they could pack into one day.
“The camp ran well and was a lot of fun!”, Cheryl said. “There were three talks on Saturday and in between there was morning tea and lunch. We did a scavenger hunt through Anna Bay, ended up at the beach, had afternoon tea there, then walked back for the last session, cleaned up and said goodbye. Felt like a week in 24 hours!”
Support For Camp + PYNSW
To make the camp happen, it took a great team of volunteers from various churches in the Hunter region including volunteers from Cheryl’s church who cooked and helped in the kitchen.
“It was really encouraging to see everyone go above and beyond and to cater for the kids, having all the food ready, and to see the look on the faces of the youth after each session, to come out and see the awesome food”, Cheryl said. “That was really encouraging.”
Dave Phillips, PYNSW General Manager, became a consultant for the camp, attending meetings and supplying resources. All PYNSW resources including registration forms, training materials, planning resources, team creation and buildings, became accessible to the Hunter region team.
Cheryl reflects, “Having been a Youth Leader for many years, I have seen the benefits of PYNSW through support, as well as their teaching and training events as we seek to minister and encourage all youth in their walks with Christ.”
The Hunter PY Camp was the pioneer for what we hope to be many more combined youth camps and events in the years to come. To assist this, PYNSW is seeking to appoint a Network Coordinator to look after this critical Gospel work.