School camps across New Zealand and Australia are as common as toast. So I was interested to find in my archive a recent article in The Conversation written by Rebecca English the question is put as to whether students should follow the American model and go off to summer camp.
Summer Camp is big business in the USA and it's cultural significance is beyond measure in the psyche of the nation. Summer Camp is the USA is one of those icons – such as apple pie in America, Shepherds Pie in England and Vegemite in Australia.
There is a constant stream of Australian and New Zealand young people who sign up as “part of a summer camp oversight team” often in their gap year or after university and get involved. One of our current young writers from Wellington New Zealand Helen McIntosh was one of these and her articles on her experiences serving in a summer camp can be read on her site: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/helen-mcintosh.html
This is not only first hand, rather it gives an insight into the nature and heart of the summer camp movement in the USA.
Rebecca English in her articles sites numerous Australian examples of our own summer camps – such as science, mathematics, youth orchestra's, golf, tennis and cricket camps and the like. Rebecca sites cost as a prohibiter in the Australian context.
Surprise, surprise 'summer camps' (school holiday camps throughout the year) are nothing new in the Australian church scene. They've been around since the turn of the century but came alive to evangelism from the mid 50's through to today.
As a teenager in the mid 60s I recall attending two such sport camps run by Scripture Union, one featured cricket and the other featured hockey. They were both held at the Kings School Rural Campus not that far from Mittagong and my parents drove me from Canberra where we lived and then collected me again. They ran for 7 days.
The coach of the Scripture Union hockey camp was Dr Bob Wheway an engineering lecturer from Wollongong University and associated with St Matthews Hockey Club in Wollongong in the Illawarra Hockey Association. When I relocated to Port Kembla (Wollongong) in the late '60s it was to Bob Wheway I made contact to join a hockey club. That was first experience of the benefits of networking (perhaps a term not widely known back then).
That initial contact led me to representative honours, to writing hockey initially for the Illawarra Mercury, for The Australian newspaper for 24 years as a stringer covering Olympics, World Cups and Champions Trophies and writing five books on hockey.
This led me to being invited to Hong Kong for an international sport mission conference and from which I initiated the Sports and Leisure Ministry (1982) and becoming the Australian cricket team chaplain. I can attest the value of those Scripture Union sports camps - a straight line can be drawn.
My own son likewise enjoyed a Scripture Union cricket camp as a high schooler in the late eighties and one of the coaches at that camp was Andrew Bennett who is now one of our young writer Sport Panellists.
Christian School-Youth Camps
The list of such camps or such-like run by Scripture Union and other Christian agencies are phenomenal.
Not only are there a myriad of such camps, but there are specialised “time away' such as Schoolies Week options. Just as one example, there is a Scripture Union yacht cruise on the Whitsundays for schoolies.
NSW Scripture Union web site provides a list of such camps
SUPA Serve NT – Emerging Christian leaders in years 9-12 – 19-30 June 2015
Shearing Camp – Guys in years 7-12 – 27 June - 3 July 2015
SU Rendez-vous – French-speaking leadership mission in Vanuatu – 27 June - 4 July 2015
The V Journey – Mission in Vanuatu for anyone in years 9-12 – 4-11 July 2015
Craft Camp – Girls in years 6-10 – 7-9 July 2015
Cricket Camp – Guys in years 5-8 – 19-22 September 2015
Bike Camp – Anyone in years 9-12 – 19-25 September 2015
Boys Ag Camp – Guys in years 7-12 – 19-26 September 2015
Girls A Camp – Girls in years 7-12 – 26 September - 3 October 2015
North Coast Junior Ag Camp – Anyone in years 7-10 – 29 September - 3 October
Junior Bike Camp – Anyone in years 7-8 – 2-5 October 2015
Dare2BDifferent – For able-bodied & disabled young people in years 7-12 – 28 December 2015 - 1 January 2016
Camp Conqueror – Anyone in Years 7-12 - 9-17 January 2016
Chaffey Dam Water Sports Camp – Anyone in years 7 to 12 – 5-10 January 2016
That's NSW let alone the other States. These have been running for years. The costs are minimal.
Sign up your teenagers for one of these and volunteer with Scripture Union to help out.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 25 books, and enjoys writing. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded ‘The Gutenberg’ - the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. He and David Chang editor of Christian Today together bought the young writer ministry into fruition in 2009. In 2011 Mark established Laguna Quays Respite (Whitsundays) for missionary respite and replicated at Aldinga Beach 2016 (Adelaide) and Greens Beach Bass Straight (TAS). His ministry is honoured all these years by Christian philanthropist Mr Basil Sellers AM. He is married to Delma (44 years), with four adult married children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/dr-mark-t.html