Well the new year is here so what better way to kick things off than with the next gen camp? Nah, seriously. Anyway, it is unfortunate that because of this camp I was unable to go to NTE. Of course I already went through this last time. Oh well, take what you can I suppose. I am grateful that I was able to go to next gen again. It was particularly encouraging to see more people from my church who were interested in being trained for leadership. And especially with the new Rising Leaders strand for younger Christians, it was pretty cool to have some of the younger people from my church take an interest in serving.
The Journey To
Anyway, things went along the same way as last year; we left in the car at about 7:30am, needing to get to Katoomba at about 9am. Same drivers as last time. Matthew Li came with our church again as per usual. I can’t exactly remember why he couldn’t go with the people from NDCCC. I tried to sleep in the car while Jacky and Matthew were being their year 6 selves and obviously causing havoc. They just never learn.
We stopped at a McDonald’s along the way where funnily enough there were heaps of other (Asian) people who were going to next gen; I sort of caught on when Juliana recognised Ryan…and Daniel? from the grade below me, and then seeing Diana Chan. It really does add to insult when you say “hi” to people and they clearly don’t recognise you. Very simple, I just got a “Oh…I didn’t know you were going to next gen…” There were many things that she didn’t know, like my name, for instance.
When we got there, there was still plenty of time to register and take our seats. Came across nearly the same bunch of people as last year which was good. Hiroshi, Jono Chow, Tracy; I wasn’t able to find a few of the people from my strand group last year, which was weird. Maybe they went to the first week.
Again things just got started so suddenly; we jumped into our first session. Again I hold great regard for the next gen music team, they are such a skilled worship, music-wise and song leader-wise. a good selection of music, a couple of the same songs from last year, and a handful of new ones. I don’t think there are enough good new songs that are worth taking back to church, like last year haha. “We Belong to the Day” was my favourite song last year. Somehow the music didn’t play the songs to my liking; a few songs had a different beat and in a different key and some just sounded weird at times. It was nice of them to experiment with different ways to play the songs, just didn’t work too well this year.
Our speaker for the morning talks was Bryson Smith, who was speaking on Jeremiah. He covered the general gist of the book, about how Israel was a sinful nation which God had simply lost his patience over (finally), Who was going to destroy His chosen people but had also set up a plan to restore it through Jesus. His talks appealed to me in that I haven’t read much of Jeremiah and the concept of God’s kingdom was one I had not studied much. It was a really good reminder for me how “big” God is and how supreme and ingenious is His plan for mankind, though at times it may look dim; there’s always that bright light at the end of the tunnel.
Our theme for this week was “A Hand Me Down Worth Handing Down” Of course the hand me down we were referring to is the gospel; so the week’s purpose was to highlight the significance of the gospel and to motivate us to pass it on. I guess the camp this year was to encourage us to share the gospel with others, and to do so specifically at church through youth groups or other ministries.
After the morning session we had some morning tea; a good reminder of the type of food we had last year. slabs of chocolate cake, some fruit, juice, donuts, etc. This year for my strand group I knew nobody; last year I was lucky enough to have Aaron in my group, but I suppose not knowing anyone in your group makes it all the more exciting and all the more the need to meet new people. By Tuesday I knew about a quarter of the group fairly well.
The passage we were studying in strand groups was Jeremiah 31:27-34, another passage where Jeremiah prophesies about Israel’s destruction and also God’s plan for salvation, so you sort of had both good and bad parts of the story. The purpose of strand 2 was to expand off the New Testament teachings from strand 1, to apply them to the Old Testament, and especially to show how the Bible is linked to Jesus, whether it be OT or NT. This was something I knew all along, but it was clarified for me this week through this large diagram (which I didn’t copy down T.T”) about the progress of God’s kingdom since creation; that it went down as sin emerged in the human race, went up as kings such as David took charge, and went down again as we get to Jeremiah. We find fulfilment of the kingdom in Jesus, who projects the “glory” of the kingdom up to the point when he returns.
I guess all of this fixes all our ideas back to how the Bible is a book that tells God’s plans for us, showing us the happy ending at the end, and how we are going to get there (or how we already are there).
After lunch, which was a dismal sandwich, we had our afternoon workshop with Al Stewart, who dealt with the “Personal Life of a Leader”. His primary focus was on avoiding sexual immorality and the like, so child protection issues, how to stay accountable to one another in regards to interacting with youth group kids, and of course nonetheless, pornography. It’s not necessarily a topic that applies to us, but at the least it might be one that some kids may be facing in their high school years; it wouldn’t be a surprise. So we learnt some basics in how to stay righteous in all these things, how to avoid them (like purposely having someone monitor what we do on the computer) and also the one important thing, which was: Twilight is p.o.r.n. Yes that’s right. Al Stewart said it himself, that Twilight is bad influence. Reason being is that it portrays to young women, this perfect “boy” who is pretty much unobtainable, because he’s not real (duh!) and so little girls who go pursuing Edward Cullen’s character will never find any real person like that, giving them the false impression that all guys are like that, and thus drawing them to all sorts of people, in hope of finding the real Edward Cullen. Yes it’s not quite the best argument but that is pornography in its most raw form. Al Stewart is a great speaker, nice and funny too. I kind of wished he could’ve given our group more talks, but then of course he had to go speak with other groups as the week went on.
After the workshop we had some free time in the afternoon to do what we wanted to. We used the time to move into our cabin, some people went to shower. And then others went out for a drive to where the shops were in Katoomba. I had a mocha which would soon to be the first of many more drinks that week which were caffeinated.
I took the privilege of taking a picture of what we had for dinner on the first night:
Perhaps the lighting wasn’t so good as I took it. It was pasta with some cheese, corn and peas, and…meatballs I think it was. It looked okay, it didn’t taste that great as usual. Of course the reason I took this photo was to bring to light the “quality” of the food. Camp food isn’t always going to be good, this I understand; the one thing that really gets to me is the size of a serving. Look at that. Me and Matthew we fairly disappointed at the size of our serving (this one was mine). Whereas you had people like Athena, who’s sort of half our size but her serving was double ours. How come?! Anyway we still went for seconds and thirds and luckily there was enough to go around. There’s always a fear that camp food won’t fill you up. But as long as there is enough, you’ll have no choice but to eat as much as necessary.
Just a note on food in general; next gen food wasn’t great last year. I don’t know whether it’s because we went in the 2nd week so all the good food was gone after the first, I certainly hope not. But yeah you just kind of wished they had managed to succeed in producing a lot of food which actually tasted good.
Our night session was with a guy called Paul Grimmond; I kept forgetting his name during the week and I always kept thinking his surname was “Grimmjow” because his smile somewhat mimicked the Bleach character haha! It really did. One of the special additions to the night session was the was the “crowning” of the “vest of shame”. They called it something else, but essentially it was one of those fluoro-orange work vests for road workers which they “handed down” to the personal with the “Epic Fail of the Day”. Day One’s epic fail was some guy who got onto…whatever the highway is to get to Katoomba, but went the wrong way on it and ended up going all the other way to the wrong end of the highway before turning around; of course he was late. It was quite smart that they something silly to portray a serious message of handing something down. They did this every night during the week. Each epic fail winner had to wear the vest “at all times” until it gets passed on. There’ll be implications to this in later posts, but have a think about it for now.
The night talks were on 1 Timothy, where Paul hands down this task of spreading the gospel to Timothy, telling him why he needs to go, and teaching him what to do. I guess I never thought about the letter in this way, but it did remind of how we are all entrusted with the gospel which we are all to pass on, simply because it is our duty as followers of Christ. The letter dealt with some important issues in Christian living; ones that we overlook at times because it’s not the central message of the passage but even the small technical parts are interesting to look at. Tonight was just dealing with an intro to the epistle.
Actually we had a few complications with our cabins, it wasn’t our problem but Ben Wong got nigelled from his church for some reason, shoved in the same cabin as some Burwood people. So he tried to change over to our cabin, which was just the guys from our church. It was a huge hassle getting that sorted out and it was only at night did we manage to get him into our room.
Showers. Never liked the showers up here; they aren’t always good. And last year taught me to look out for the better showers. There are showers where you can turn the hot water tap to the max and the water would still be cold; that’s how bad some of the showers were. And it took all of last year’s next gen for me to work out the trick behind the showers. I found it 😛 So the first night went well because I immediately went for the best shower and had really nice and hot water. Showering first right after the night session has its benefits.
Later at night after lights out at 10:30pm, we stayed up to mahjong in the room. We only played until 12am and by then we were all tired from waking up early that day and having all those talks and studies throughout the day. 4 different Bible-related things in a day really tires you out. There were other funny tid bits at night, but unfortunately what happens in the room stays in the room, I honour that arrangement so if you want to know the shenanigans that happened at night, give me a call.
Otherwise we slept at night. But did the night go well? Find out in Tuesday’s post.