As most of you should know, I have been gone the entire week on a Christian in Katoomba. KCC, Katoomba Christian Conference organises several functions throughout the year. This one in particular they newly named it “next generation”; which is a 5-day camp aimed at year 12 and above Christians who are leaders or will be leaders of a church group or something.
Anyway, the last 5-day camp I’ve ever been to was iLight back in ‘07 and those were perhaps the best 5 days of my life ever. Nevertheless I will try to match blog lengths here; slightly remembering that back then I had about 1500 words everyday, bringing a grand total to a 7500 word blog. This time round I will split this camp into a blog per day to make it easier.
Please feel free to make large comments. To do this just click “add comment” at the bottom. This way you can read the post and then add comments at the bottom whenever you feel like it. Okay so without further or do, here we go.
The Long Drive
I had heard that we needed to get to Katoomba by 8am, which is absurdly early. So the plan was to start heading off at about 7am. Sam and Jason drove me and Matthew Li up to Katoomba while others from my church travelled with other drivers. Actually with regards to Matthew; he only told me he wanted to come at like the last minute. Well he did have a little more than a week to get things sorted out. So he had to pay that $315 late fee. I tried to give him that spare $240 early bird ticket that Kenny had, but then forgot that Lillian Chan bought it a while back. So yeah already we had random people that weren’t really expecting to come but then eventually did. Surprisingly both were from our high school haha!
Anyway I woke up at like 5:30am to get ready. Ate leftovers for breakfast, packed up my toiletries and then watched Inuyasha Movie 3 in English; ah sigh stupid Americans. Matthew showed up at 7am and both of us waited for Sam to arrive, who came late at like 7:20am; clearly quite late and so we were obviously not going to be able to get there at 8am. But luckily we found out that we were meant to get there by 9:45am in time for the first talk.
Funny because I had to call up Jess Y to see if she could get in contact with Yvonne to call up Sam to see where he was. Frankly, she wasn’t travelling at the time either so everyone was “late”. When we got there, there were a number of people there already, numbering about 200. Overall I’d say we had about 500 people in total, not ultra-massive thank goodness. We moved up to sign ourselves in; get a name tag and then find our strand groups.
The way next generation works is that their program is split into three sections for “Youth Ministry” and just two sections for the new “Children’s Ministry”. So each year you do one strand or one section of the entire program; yep three years of coming haha!. Anyway we went off to find our strand groups and then tell them we’ve arrived and also pick up our booklets and meet our strand group leaders. Amy and Darren were the names of our group’s leaders. Our group’s theme was pirates and they gave us bandanas, eye patches and kiddie $2 swords haha! Actually most other groups didn’t have a theme so they were envious at us.
Oh yeah I suppose at this stage I should point out that next generation was a fair 60% Asian and 40% Caucasian; well the numbers seemed more balanced than any other situation I’ve ever seen haha! But yes okay that’s the way they run things, whatever. Other people from our church that came were:
Diana (Yvonne’s Korean friend)
Patrick* (who were all year 11s from our school)
We started our program as soon as 9:45am hit. Had an introduction from our chairman, Raj Gupta (check your books people for their names =)) After that we had singing. And perhaps maybe I should just give the overview of music for the entire week, otherwise it will be disjointed commenting randomly about it throughout the other four blog posts.
Basically they had about 4 songs every morning and night. One song separated by other sections of the program, such as announcements, the weather report, interviews and the talk. They had a band comprised of a drummer (which personally I didn’t think was anything flashy), acoustic guitarist (who seemed pretty pro), electric guitarist (who Javier kept raging at mentally for not being “enthusiastic”), bass guitarist, a pianist and two female vocals; one melody one harmony.
They played a variety of songs throughout the week, all of which could be found in our camp booklets. They didn’t play all the music though, which is a shame for all the good songs missed, such as “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”. And then they kept playing certain songs a few times too many; and some of our cabin mates voiced their annoyance at the lack of music they actually playe despite advertising so many songs in their booklet: they only played about 21 of the 32 songs, most of which played only once.
Apart from that it seemed to me that they didn’t really perform their songs all too well; in that it didn’t seem appealing. I will congratulate their bass from their quality sound systems, good on the tech guys for that, but apart from that their performances didn’t seem all that great. They got words wrong, there was excessive harmonies which just went over the top for some songs and thus ruined the mood of say a verse. And then they didn’t play the song accurately, repeating/not repeating a chorus, playing the wrong choruses particularly for “Your Grace Is Enough” and “Indescribable”. So yeah I wasn’t particularly pleased at the music. It certainly had a different atmosphere to that time back at iLight where I remember clearly all of us were jumping and throwing our hands in the air as if we were at a concert. Yes okay for other people that would seem to do with Christian music but our enthusiasm just showed how strong a mood they were able to create at iLight.
I suppose the musicians tried really hard to prepare for the week; a massive 21 songs is a lot to learn so good for them. Had kind of wished they’d lead the singing session with more interaction with us; like perhaps say something in between songs or count us in for the verse, something that involved communication. But oh well they had enough work as it was. And that’s it for music. But I’ll end this section by saying there’s another new song I’ve come to like, can’t find the mp3 for it at the moment though >.<” Sheet music here:
Well after the singing and other random things we got to the talk. Our morning talks were based on the passage John 14 – 17. 5 talks for three chapters. Our speaker was Grant Retief; he’s South African but actually has quite pale skin. To describe him a bit, I couldn’t help but notice that his voice was actually very close to that of comedian Akmal Saleh’s voice, albeit Grant’s voice was lower but they both that “pitch” or “tinge: in their voices. Strange. Throughout the week he kept making these funny cricket jokes; either that or saying something funny about cricket. They were good to listen to, really lightened up the mood.
Well I can’t really repeat all his talks although I did take about 1 and a third pages of notes every single talk on average. He’s pretty good at pulling out so much from 3 and a half chapters from the Bible; that I can actually write out 5-6 pages worth of notes. He also used some good illustrations and analogies randomly. They weren’t too big and I can’t really remember them well because I was too focused in taking down notes and all. But I will say that they were long and that they were good so yeah, quite a good morning everyday.
Grant’s talks served as our New Testament side of Bible knowledge for the week; little did we know that our strand in particular would be using a few mere verses before his first talk as part of our study. But I suppose it’s good to here how the gospel flows and just what Jesus is trying to say to His disciples. I suppose if I had to give a point I’d say that it’s interesting that we should be glad when Jesus left the world, because it was only then that He could send everyone the Holy Spirit. It’s those kind of “I have to hurt you a bit now for something better later…” type scenario.
After the talk we had a bit more singing and then we had morning tea. Each strand group was assigned to cater for a meal. But more on our group’s turn later. I don’t remember very well what we ate for morning tea each day but I do remember that I took the chocolate alternative every single time because it was there. I remember that nice big slice of mud cake, sorta. And that chocolate chipped cookie which was hard and tasted burnt. Actually it was here that I realized drinks were offered in cups of cordial or water. And then it dawned on me that I had forgotten to bring a drink bottle; so now the result is a dehydrated me who should actually be trying to sleep through 30 degree nights rather than blogging at 2:30am on a Saturday morning T.T”
Okay anyway we moved off to our strand groups. Luckily I found out that Aaron Imperial, aka Ren was in my group. I could actually spot my group just by looking for people with those black bandanas. I didn’t bother wearing mine because I’m a headband/forehead protector person haha; ah, never mind, my slight preferences when I’m in a cosplay mood haha. Oh I am so going to buy a Bleach outfit in Hong Kong if I can find one! Our group met at the Calirvaux building which was about 5 minutes walk from the auditorium. It was sort of a mansion but just less furnished and all’; whatever.
My group was about 15-16 people and yeah didn’t really know anyone else rather than Ren. But actually these days my general mood has been so down that I didn’t come with the intentions of meeting new people; I just wanted to come and learn so it was harder for me to socialise with other people. I still did and over the next four days I had managed to get to know most of the group, of course names are still a blur as they should be.
Okay I might as well spill it here. In Strand Groups we’re basically working to analyse John 14:1-7 and eventually write a Bible study. And I kind of felt disappointed when I found our that we were going to look at the passage using a theological approach. I didn’t like the fact that I had done all of this very very recently; make that last week. Tuesday nights Kenny is running a Moore College Correspondence Course and we’ve already learnt about reading a passage in those ways and how to pcik the important ideas and stuff.
Well I do admit the Strand course was very well structured; I just wasn’\t able to get much out of it. Pfftt to Strand 1 really; I’ve been writing Bible Studies for 2 years so I’ve got some experience. The only things I learned were the Context, Content and Interpretation questions. That sort of gave me more direction when I wrote down my study. But yeah the workload was relatively easy for me, albeit the annoying-to-understand passage.
Every strand group did their activities in a different way apparently; fair enough, the leaders were all different and all worked independently. I can’t really say much more about what we did in Strand Groups. Although perhaps I should mention this.
This would be perhaps the very first time I’ve been in an environment where the people are older than me and demonstrate a very thorough understanding of the Bible. I was always wondering if I would be “worthy” enough to speak for fear I’d draw a point that wasn’t right or something to embarrass myself through stupidity. And somehow I felt that I had found people who I was, well, on par with. I take pride in how much I’ve learned theologically over all these years of troubles and though it doesn’t make me any stronger as a Christian, I sometimes try to use it to make me stronger. So this week was a test of seeing how my pride faired in front of a group of a smarter people; I can’t always be the one with the better answer huh?
Well we had lunch after our strand groups; lunch was those sandwiches you would find in a cafeteria where you just grab what you want and pay, albeit the packaging and of course no need to pay. I keep forgetting to say that every day we were in Katoomba was really hot and it was hard eating lunch under such scorching heat. It was a rough lunchtime.
In the afternoon we workshops, which was basically a tutorial or lecture, something we’ll be facing in university this year. Our first workshop for Youth Ministry was called “Strategy for Youth Work 1” Basically it was all about how we should presenting our youth group to the youths. We needed to be careful so that we could present the Bible and make it fun at the same time. Although he wasn’t specific about how to achieve something as paradoxical as that. But he did use the analogy that “boring Bible bits” are like “All-Bran”, it’s good for you but not very good tasting. And then fun and games is like “Coco-Pops”, taste great but aren’t exactly good for you. So then we basically needed to find something that is both good for you and good-tasting, something like: “Sultana Bran”, although I prefer the brand name “Coco-Bran” haha!
But the one thing he said that actually made a lot of sense was that youth group can be sort of like Rove Live in terms of principle. The guy said that Rove Live keeps the same program running every week and even then it’s still different and entertaining every week; it just needs variation in certain areas. And so that’s perhaps what we need to do with our youth groups; to keep some things the same and yet make it different at the same time.
Okay now we have proper free time in the afternoon. For everyday we had 2.5 hours to do whatever we wanted, which is good. Spent the first hour on Monday playing basketball with Matt, Javier, Ken, Kenny, Douglas, Daniel (I believe his name was) and yeah. There were a few randoms there and only one proper half court. So we “”played” them off the courts. Nah just kidding. We took turns rotating from having small games, first to 3 baskets. I suck massively at basketball; would like more time to practice though. So I left after the one hour, was getting tired anyway, physically and of losing haha.
Meanwhile Sharon, Phillip (I’ll introduce him in the Tuesday post), Julz and Patrick (who cbb going to play basketball) were playing Uno. They were playing half-Mao style by adding a new rule upon winning. Of course they played by funny rules which involved actions, rather than on smart play; dam Nick Lay and Yitian for their complex mathematical patterns for playing their cards. But yeah as far as I can remember (and from reading Sharon’s blog), there was a no laughing rule; a “Patrick cannot move his body” rule, and a “your hands cannot touch anything except for the cards” rule which were all rather interesting. Despite that, Julz kept laughing heaps and well, it is our great fear that Julz will die from laughter because her tear glands just activate when she laughs so you actually physically get “tears of joy” which is very strange. We fear for her haha, because laughter is a poison to her rather than a medicine.
Dinner and the Night Session
Well yeah let’s move onto food now. Camp food always has its reputation for being slightly inadequate compared to what we normally eat at home. And well these five days were no exception although I will say that the quality of the food went up rather well over the course of the camp. For Monday night, we were served pasta, with no meat, there was cheese and like small bits of vegetables, and that was it. Me and Matthew had to go and get like 4 plates of the stuff to fill up. A rather poor first dinner in my opinion, and dessert was simply ice-cream. I wasn’t watching when I was scooping out the ice cream and I accidentally took a total of about 6 large scoops; which is obviously beyond my share. And then I poured like heaps of chocolate topping over it. I got scolded by Sharon and Julz for my irregularly-sized dessert and I paid the price with a stomach ache later that night.
Afterwards we had about another half hour to mingle before moving back to the auditorium for the night session. Again same thing, singing and random stuff and then a night talk. The night sessions were led by a man named Luke, who gave 4 talks over 4 nights on the opening chapters of Genesis. Overall they were all very good talks and had I not been already doing the PTC this term, I would’ve said that I’ve learned heaps which would’ve made the camp really worth it.
Unfortunately what Luke talked about every night was something I’ve already learned over a much longer period. I still managed to pickup a few facts that I’ve missed so that was still worth it. But yeah please forgive my obnoxious view but I wasn’t too swayed by the Genesis talks because I’ve done so much study on it so it becomes increasingly harder to learn something new about it. But actually when Initially started the PTC I had that “wow” feeling so I guess that’s how a lot of people felt over the four nights; which does qualify Luke’s talks as good from my perspective.
The night progressed on after the night session and then we had more spare time from 9pm onwards. Played a bit of Mahjong but then most people were playing Uno so we went over to play Uno as well. The Uno night was really intense and it always is because our church has extra house rules that make it more hectic. Actually it’s just the one rule of “cutting” where you may play an identical card on top regardless of whose turn it is; and then play continues from the last card played, so technically it can always be your turn if you’re lucky. Because of this one rule, everyone is always watching for when they can “cut” in and it’ became a race to see who can get their card on the pile first. Jason had a really hard time on Monday night because he sat in the corner where he was furthest away from the pile so he found it hard to ever get a card in.
The game stopped at just one winner which was fair I guess; can’t remember all too well at who won and all but the game was so hectic with like 18 people or more. We used 2 sets of Uno cards so there was always 4 of each card available, like Mahjong. But what makes our “cutting” rule so annoying is particularly for the “Draw X Cards” cards. The Wild Draw 4 cards became the most dangerous cards because you can always pop in with them if someone ever dared play one, and from that you could assassinate the player next to you, either that or save someone across the table from you from drawing a lot of cards and dumping that burden on a person next to you. My sincere apologies to Sharon, I kind of kept having those cards in my hand and jumped in to feed her like 20+ cards in one go; got her a bit mad by the end of the night, so yeah sorry shaz =.=” But it was funny haha xD
Well Uno got everyone tired by 11pm and we also kept making a lot of noise throughout the evening (we were playing in the dining hall for dinner and breakfast) while people were trying to do their devotions I guess, our bad. Actually on that note I realised I forgot to do the last three days worth of devotions; I barely kept myself disciplined enough to do quiet times even on Monday and Tuesday. Got too distracted by everything happening during spare time that I forgot to do my devotions. So much easier for me this year thanks to the book Grace gave me for my b’day, a verse a day plus some extra stuff to read, and then I can just read through the entire chapter and that’s my reading for the day 😛
Toilets & Cabins
Oh wow where do I begin? Our cabins were of various sizes. Actually first off the cabins were scattered across the campsite. Ours were luckily a few steps from the auditorium but people like Charlie had to walk like 30 minutes to their campsite in Elftham Park, dang. But then they had better food there and en suites. Yeah our cabins didn’t have toilets or showers which means we all have to use the damn toilets for everything, which obviously aren’t as cosy as en suites. The bathrooms were fairly clean albeit the creep crawlies at like 1-6am in the morning.
Anyway with our cabins, or our cabin in particular, it could hold 10 people: me, Matthew, Kenneth, Sam and Jason, plus 5 random Caucasian guys. The bad thing was that those five Caucasian guys, they snore. They snored all night long, loudly, for each of the four nights. Such horrible night every night was. I remember that Monday night I really didn’t get any sleep so I was completely dead Tuesday morning. Why do they snore? Wah! Ah well any other roommates would’ve faced the same chance of snoring anyway. Haven’t caught up with sleep yet even today.
Okay now the toilets. They are okayish; the showers were better than ours back at Point Wolstencroft for church camp, en suites there had no hot water last year.The showers were better here in Katoomba; and no time limit or any crap like that haha so we all just showered away to our heart’s content. But anyway bad nights of sleep every night which was bad; and to think I’m still alive after all that snoring.
So there you have Monday; it’s going to be one of the longer posts of the five days. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be shorter but Friday will be longer because I’ll add reflection and summary in that one, so yeah keep reading on if you want.