In January this year, 138 young people made a commitment to Jesus at a Youthworks camp – a figure that the organisation wants to grow even further by completing the upgrades to its four-site centre at Port Hacking.
“Our campsites, which have served so well, have been in need of major upgrading to serve the needs of schools and keep up with modern community standards around safety, hygiene and accessibility,” says the CEO of Youthworks, the Rev Canon Craig Roberts. “Churches and schools were voting with their feet.”
While new ensuite bathrooms have been installed over recent years at Telford, Rathane and Deer Park – gradually bringing more people back – the modernisation of the Port Hacking site needs to be completed, and the main gap is at Chaldercot.
Launched in mid-September, the Complete in Christ campaign is seeking to raise $2.12m to finish the upgrade work because, Canon Roberts says, “Youthworks can’t do this alone. We’re going to need the help of churches, and faithful individuals to raise the funds needed”.
He adds that 58 per cent of churchgoers have a formative spiritual experience on a camp – a comment echoed by the rector of Wild Street in Maroubra, the Rev Rod Cocking, whose congregations always head to Port Hacking for the parish’s annual weekend away.
“We’ve been going away together as a church for 20 years – apart from COVID,” he says. “It is likely the most important weekend in the year for our church. We regularly refer to it as better than a month of Sundays.
“Probably the key word that describes the value of our weekend away is the word ‘deeper’. The value of a whole weekend away together is that it enables us to go deeper in our relationship with God through his word [and] one another... as we invest in each other, it’s going to help us love each other for the long term."
"A weekend away together sets up our entire year.”
Over the past 15 years, Wild Street has also sent more than 50 youth to a Youthworks Leaders in Training camp – something Mr Cocking calls “a gift... to the local church”.
“[LiT] is arguably the most significant gospel-shaping moment in young people’s lives,” he says. “We’ve watched our youth grow in discipleship as they’ve wrestled with God’s word together with peers. We’ve seen them trained to do word ministry to kids and at school. And as a result, many of our kids are serving in exactly those ways in and outside of church life and in their schools.”
In addition to church and LiT camps, Youthworks Christian Outdoor Education camps minister to a further 16,000 children each year – and, in a short video made to coincide with the Complete in Christ campaign, former Sydney archbishops Davies, Jensen and Goodhew all speak of the value of the ministry.
Says Bishop Goodhew: “It would be impossible to count the number of lives that have been transformed for Christ in this environment... It would be hard for me to think immediately of anything that I think is as significant as this”.
Adds Canon Roberts: “The proof is incontrovertible. Eighty per cent of Christians in church today made a first-time commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday... Many leaders in our Diocese have come to Christ or been formed through leading on Christian camps. Our campsites are places of significant gospel impact.”
More than $257,000 had already been raised for the Complete in Christ campaign. Those interested in donating should head to [url=https://www.youthworks.net/complete]https://www.youthworks.net/complete[/url]