Square One is described by attendees as “great fun – you get to be away from your parents for the weekend and you don’t have to tidy your room!”
For the first time since the annual spring camp for children in Years 3 to 6 – and their church leaders – began more than 20 years ago, a new winter camp has been added, doubling the number of kids and leaders with whom Youthworks can share the gospel.
Youthworks plans these weekends of age-appropriate Bible teaching and fun activities to free church leaders up to invest in discipling their kids. Many churches don’t have the capacity to run their own children’s camps, so Square One provides an opportunity for kids’ ministry teams to go away with the young ones and spend time in God’s word together.
“Square One is important because it offers something unique,” says camp co-ordinator Annemarie Rivers, who is also a children’s ministry and primary school Special Religious Education advisor with Youthworks.
“Churches send children and leaders, and so the discipleship continues on from the great work already happening week-in, week-out in each church community, at after-school kids’ clubs and Sunday programs.”
Mrs Rivers first attended Square One when working as a parish children’s minister, and saw the multiple benefits of children going away with church leaders who were known and trusted by families.
“There really isn’t anything like a camp to fast-track friendships and really dig deep into God’s word together,” she says. “I loved that because of how it is set up; many non-church parents were happy to send children to camp because they trusted my leaders.”
This year, nine churches will send kids and leaders to hear talks from the book of James and be challenged to have an “inside-out faith”: a faith that impacts their hearts, minds and actions, and that other people can see in their lives.
It’s been about five years since the Rev Andrew Daniels and the kids’ ministry leaders at Frenchs Forest attended their first Square One camp with three kids. Now they’re regularly taking more than 10 children with them, as kids continue to invite friends along.
“We keep attending because the gospel is clearly proclaimed each time, and the program is really well run and put together,” Mr Daniels says.
“Normally, the time we spend with the kids is either at kids’ club for an hour and a half or kids’ church for a couple of hours. There’s value in being able to do stuff with them for an extended period of time. There’s the opportunity to talk to them, and answer questions you might not get the opportunity to in regular kids ministry.”
Mrs Rivers and her team are praying for more opportunities like these – that children will keep asking good questions and fully experience Christian friendship and community across the weekend.
“For some kids, that means being encouraged to keep growing and loving Jesus, and for others, it’s the first step of faith,” she says.