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experience the spirit of sharing

Issue 37 - Autumn 14

Mountain Trails past, present and future!

! e d i s n I E R O M s ’ There fires h s u B on

tives c e p s r Pe pg 18 Some

ness k c i s e Hom 14 pg Uga n i y r t s A Mini pg 10

ping m a C n hristia C n i g aisin pg 12 Fundr ards d n a t S esent r P & Clear pg 8 cene S l a n tio The Na g 16 p


Welcome to 2014. I am sure many of you hit the ground running and have had some wonderful summer groups through. For those of you who were able to take a break and catch your breath, I hope you are now back into your routine and enjoying this great ministry we have the privilege to be a part of, whether that is in a large multistaffed organisation or, like myself, at a smaller, but equally important, site run by one or two people.

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As someone fairly new to CVA (by the standards of many of you), can I just say what a great organisation we belong to. My site was previously a part of another organisation, and the support and encouragement that we received was nothing compared to that which we receive through CVA. This includes regional gatherings, chaplains’ support and assistance from other member sites which are willing to share what they have with anyone, no matter what denomination or how close that other site is to them physically.


Does CVA always get it right? No, of course not! Does every regional event or speaker at national events appeal to each of us? Probably not! But if we look at it as a whole and engage with our Association, (even if that’s just by attending events or answering surveys) we will reap the benefits. Why? Because God is good and he cares for each and every one of us, whether we know that or not, and often He does that through other people. CVA, through its staff, chaplains and Committee & Board members, provides some of those people. On the side – a little plug! As we approach Connect14, please consider attending with others from your organisation. We will be celebrating 40 years of the Association’s existence and once again, hearing from Bryan Loritts. The feedback from last conference indicated that many of you agreed with me in saying that Bryan is an excellent speaker and well worth spending some time listening to.

In recent months, I have heard from a number of people that CVA doesn’t give them what they want - I urged them to feed that back, either via their Regional Committee or maybe directly to the National Board or maybe, even through one of those, can I say it, “dreaded surveys”. It has been my experience, sitting around the table at Board meetings, that we are ALWAYS trying to learn what our members want and what will help them as they minster to the people they serve each and every day. How can we support, train, mentor, share and partner with you and others to maximise the impact you have in your unique mission? Personally, I have reaped much larger benefits from our Association than I can ever put back in. Much of which just comes from attending events, building relationships and knowing people from other sites that I can contact when I have a problem or question and need someone who understands to listen. My hope for 2014 is that you too will allow CVA to become, if it isn’t already, a part of your journey - so that together we can all do the ministry to which God has called us. Karen Parker Board Member & Manager of Uniting Venues Tarooki Campsite, SA

Christian Venues Association ExpEriEncE thE spirit of sharing christian camping international australia trading as christian Venues association aBn 74 050 611 295 po Box 5552, south Windsor nsW 2756 ph: 1800 009 890 or (02) 4587 7155 fax: (02) 4587 7933 Email: Web: please note: the views and opinions expressed by the authors of the articles contained in this publication belong to those authors and are not necessarily the views and opinions of christian Venues association


Celebrate 40 years of our stories ...if you never ever go, yo

The Association’s 40th Anniversary & 21st National Conference The Tops, Stanwell Tops, NSW July 28 to August 1, 2014

u’ll never ever know!

ellowship Time for f king & networ

Relevant & Inte resting Worskshops

Delicious Food!

The Trade Show A Place to Connect

Uplifting W o rs as a Comm hip unity

Fun Ac tivitie for All s

ing by Great teach Bryan Loritts

Register at

Mountain Trails - Twenty-Fi

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

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Twenty-five years ago last July, we ran our first Mountain Trails camp in cooperation with Scripture Union, ACT. The seed of the idea was planted the year before when Gary had an encounter with God that brought about a total life change for our family. He had a successful medical practice in Canberra and we lived on a beautiful rural property just over the border into NSW with our five children. We gathered some like-minded friends and family around us to help and set about forming a ministry. Gary and I had both grown up under the ministry of Teen Ranch in Sydney, where we had met and become Christians when we were 11 and 12. We took our limited experience from there and launched out in faith.


We leased a local property (Caloola Farm) to run the camp and continued to do so for five years, whilst praying to find a place of our own. Each time we ran a camp we had to take everything we needed, from plastic plates to trampolines, and truck it over to the campsite – it was a bit like a circus train every time! We mustered the horses over and trucked all the saddles, helmets and other tack - our first camp started a day late as we had so much rain, the river crossing (that we had to cross each trip) flooded. At the end of camp we had to load everything up and take it all home, as well as get the kids onto the school bus by 7.30am the following morning! It was clear that this could not continue. We were outgrowing the campsite so the need was getting urgent. We decided to run our Summer Camps in 1993 under canvas at Wee Jasper’s “Billy Grace Reserve”, which was close to the Wee Jasper caves. This would add another element to our program. While we were booking that site, we were told of an 8 ½ thousand-acre property that was for sale nearby. The team dropped by to look

Using Sheep Yards for the horses at the Jones's place

One of the First Chapel Times at Caloola Farm

ve Years and Going Strong!

His love endures forever!” (Psalm 136:1)

at it and realised this was the place God had planned for Mountain Trails. It was above and beyond all we had hoped or imagined. The owner was a bulldozer driver so the hill country had fire trails already made that we could use for trail rides. There was a lot of work to be done but we had moved there by March 1993 and ran our first camp the week after we moved.

Our Radio Repeater Aerial is installed

Ruth in the Early Days

The ministry of Mountain Trails has expanded over the years to include mountain bikes, motor bikes, caving, abseiling, high and low ropes, swimming, canoeing as well as the horse riding, archery and whip cracking we started out with 25 years ago. As well as our school holiday camps and midweek school programs, we do regular weekend camps in partnership with Barnardos for ‘at risk’ young people, which has been both challenging and very rewarding, and RAW (Riding Adventure Weekends) featuring our horses and motor & mountain bikes as electives. God has blessed this ministry and we thank Him for it and offer it up to Him every day. Ruth Jones - Co-founder

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Camping Out at Caloola Fa rm

Much water has flowed under the bridge since that first camp at ‘Doctor’s Flat’ – yes, that is what it was called! Many, many young people have heard the good news of God’s love for them and many people have helped us as volunteers and paid staff along the way. There have been many heartaches and many blessings. I retired as cook after 20 years and have launched headlong into wonderful ‘Granma’ duties. Gary stepped down as on-site leader just over a year ago, although he still works more than full-time as a doctor to keep the ministry moving forward. Vicki and Mal Bennett, Gary’s little sister and brother-in-law, have taken over as CEO and Program Manager and have a wonderful team to help them achieve the aims of Mountain Trails. Vicki and Mal have been with us off and on from the very first camp and share our vision for bringing that Good News to as many young people as possible.


Mountain Trails - 25th A

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We held a weekend of celebrations on 2nd and 3rd of November, 2013 to celebrate this great milestone and give thanks to God and our supporters for all that has been achieved. We had a Bush Dance at the Yarralumla Woolshed in Canberra on the Saturday night with about 65 friends, old and new, dancing the night away. On the Sunday, about 70-80 joined us at a Celebration Service and Open Day at the Mountain Trails campsite. Following the Celebration Service, we had an official “sod turning” to commence the building of our new campsite, that has finally received Council approval. The weather was glorious and we were able to give our guests a taste of our activities, as well as a delicious BBQ lunch. Many stories were shared about how the ministry of MT had touched and changed lives, and old friendships renewed. Future plans Our vision for the future remains pretty much the same as it always has been, but we have recently


articulated it at our Strategic Planning day, as follows: “Presenting Jesus through life changing experiences in the great outdoors.” Also, the aims of Mountain Trails have not changed since we began over 25 years ago, and these can be summarised as follows: • To present the Gospel clearly to all campers • To provide adventure and challenge physically, mentally and spiritually • To provide an avenue for Christian service and personal growth We are striving to be faithful in delivering on these aims through the programs that we currently run, and as we explore new ways to reach more people for the Gospel. This year we have started a new program called M.A.D (Mission, Adventure, Discipleship) which is a one-year, residential, volunteer Gap Year, especially designed to give school-leavers the opportunity to ground their lives in knowing,

Supporters at the 25th Celebrations

Celebrating with Bushdancing

Teaching a Camper about Dirt Bikes

nniversary Celebrations! “rustic” facilities. But whether or not we achieve our plans for building our new site is only a minor consideration, as we know that we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…kept in heaven for us.” 1 Peter 1:4. This knowledge, and the lives that are changed by the ministry of Mountain Trails, keep us getting up every morning to do what we do. I’ll finish with a quote from an email received from a camper after our Summer Senior Camp, to encourage you all as it has encouraged us: “I now want to find God more in my heart. I have talked to my dad and we have agreed that I can go to church and be baptised. I believe that God is there to help and save me from my wrong, so thank you for the week.” “Thanks be to God, who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:25 Vicki Bennett - Executive Director

A First Try at Caving The Sod Turning of the new Campsite

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loving and serving God during this time of transition. We aim to encourage and support young people to grow into mature Christian adults who are dependent on Christ and equipped to serve Him. We offer a unique wilderness setting with plenty of outdoor adventure and ministry opportunities in which the M.A.D participants have the time and opportunity to be challenged personally, develop a deeper relationship with God, participate in Christian mission and learn many skills that they will carry with them into their adult lives. We are also, God willing and finances available, planning to commence the building of the first of the dormitories of our long-awaited new campsite in 2014. The new campsite has been planned from the time we arrived at Doctor’s Flat almost 21 years ago, but there have been many challenges along the way that have prevented this dream from being realised. The new site will accommodate more campers in greater comfort, so it will be a welcome change from our rather


Clear and Present Whether it is a legacy of the Judeo-Christian foundations of our legal system or not – one of the benefits that religious organisations have in Australia are various exemptions under our laws which recognise the beneficial role they play in society and the unique nature of religious organisations. In a legal system with multiple State, Territory and Commonwealth laws, there are a number of definitions of charity and different exemptions that operate. These laws exempt religious organisations from having to comply with laws ranging from discrimination to laws in relation to income tax. Some exemptions are more restrictive than others – such as the exemption from stamp duty and the ability to have donations tax deductible - these are generally not available to organisations for the promotion of religion. Key in any application that you make for exemption will be your governing documents, your policies and what you actually do. Increasingly when applications are being made for exemption, whether it is the ATO, the AntiDiscrimination Board or the Court, they will look at the founding documents such as your Constitution, your business plan, your value statement and your actual practise.

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Your Constitution Your Constitution should include as one of its principal objects, the promotion of religion. It should then go on to be more specific about the nature of the religion that is being promoted. Often this is done by incorporating a statement of faith. Some organisations take the easy way


out and use a traditional creed such as the Nicene Creed or the Apostles Creed. However, care needs to be taken with these, as they are not comprehensive statements of faith. You also need to consider the exemptions that you are hoping to benefit from. For example, the exemption in discrimination legislation that allows a religious organisation to discriminate on what would otherwise be a prohibited ground – such as homosexuality, only applies (in NSW at least) if the discrimination “conforms to the doctrines of that religion or is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of the adherents of that religion.” Arguably if sexuality is not important enough to be mentioned in the statement of beliefs, it is not important enough to injure the religious susceptibilities of its adherents. Your Policies Often I see in documents for religious organisations, statements such as the organisation is committed to teaching the “whole counsel of God” or ”the principles of behaviour set out in the Bible” or members are to “engage in Holy living”. It is more difficult to argue that homosexuality is against the doctrines of your religion, if you try and bring that prohibition under a general statement to “uphold the Bible’s teaching”. If your organisation has particular standards which it intends its staff to adhere to, then they should be made explicit and clear. Importantly they should be made explicit and clear to any staff before they are employed.

Standards It is more difficult when you are contracting with an incorporated body because an incorporated body does not engage in certain sexual acts. Your policy needs to extend to values that the organisation holds and promotes. If you do not permit your venue to be used by groups that promote particular values then those values should be made clear. Your Practise Not only do you need to “talk the talk” in your documents and policies, but you need to “walk the walk” in how you enforce them. If you permit your venue to be used by a group that promotes Islam and not by a group that promotes homosexuality, then it can be argued that you have no problem in principle with hiring your venue to groups that promote values to which your organisation is opposed. If you permit a staff member to continue in circumstances where he/she has committed adultery but not when they are homosexual, then it will open the door to the argument that your member’s religious susceptibilities are not injured by the sexual behaviour or orientation of your staff. In addition, if your website makes no mention that you are a religious organisation, then a Court or Tribunal may form the view that you are for all practical purposes, a secular organisation.

may find yourself unable to obtain an exemption, which you might otherwise have been entitled to obtain. Finally, there is sometimes a temptation to play down the religious aspects of an organisation. Often this is done in the hope of obtaining success in funding applications from Governments or to obtain business from a particular market sector – such as Government schools. If you do so, then you run the risk of not having exemptions that might otherwise benefit your organisation. It really comes down to integrity – acting consistently with what you profess to believe. Steven Nicholson Principal McPhee Kelshaw Solicitors

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It is important to have your house in order. If you do not, then you may find yourself exposed to a claim for discrimination in circumstances where you might have had the benefit of an exemption if your house was in order. Or you


In 2008, I travelled to Kampala, the capital of Uganda for the first time, with two young couples from my church. We stayed for six weeks, supervised the construction of a dormitory and did

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a whole lot of odd jobs. Some time before this, we had made a connection with Wakisa Ministries, a Christian NFP that takes in and cares for abandoned, teenage girls with unplanned pregnancies (about 20 at a time) – many are the result of rape and some of incest. Ugandan culture is very male-dominated, so the girls are typically traumatised, desperate, with very low self-esteem and feeling that their world is at an end with no hope for the future.


The Director and founder of Wakisa is Mrs Vivian Kityo, a former nurse who was greatly effected by the death of a young girl in labour. She was determined that she could do something for “the least of these”, to ensure that the girls in her care would deliver their babies safely. So a doctor volunteers his time every Thursday and the girls go for regular prenatal check-ups at the

local hospital. Girls are accepted without regard for their ability to pay (they are not charged anything!), religion, race, level of education, tribe or nationality – they are only selected on the basis of their need – in fact Vivian believes that God brings those that He wants them to care for. While the girls are at the centre (a converted residential property), the staff work with the families to bring reconciliation and have a very good success

rate. They are also provided with vocational training in the areas of candle making, bead making, cookery, agriculture, tailoring & computer skills. Bible study and devotional times are a part of their everyday routine. After the girls give birth, they stay at the centre until the baby is feeding consistently and then return to their homes or to the home of an extended family member. In a minority of cases, sponsors can be found (mainly in Australia, but also in the UK, Ireland and Switzerland) to provide the funds necessary for girls to return to school and finish their education – really the only way for many to escape a future of poverty.

“In 2010, Mary (not her real name) was a 16 year old from the poor western region of Uganda. She was a Senior 1 student (equivalent to Year 7), living with her grandparents. When she grows up, she wants to be a doctor so that she will be able to take care of others. Since the age of nine, Mary has been raised by her grandparents. Her mum fell pregnant to a man other than her husband and so the husband left her. Mary’s father has remarried and has never cared for his daughter. Mary was raped by her uncle but she didn’t say anything to anyone until her grandparents discovered that she was pregnant. They blamed her for the rape and were so furious with her that they threw her out of their home. She felt devastated and was now homeless. Mary is now at Wakisa and is in the eighth month of her pregnancy. She feels loved and cared for there and is gradually coming to accept her situation. In Ugandan culture, mothers never keep babies who are conceived through incest, so Mary is now coming to terms with the fact that her baby will be placed in a baby’s home immediately after delivery. Vivian very much empathises with her turmoil and sadness.” Mary is a good student, has recently completed the equivalent of our School

Certificate and will be going on to complete her high school studies. While some reconciliation with her family has occurred, as I understand it, no-one has ever spoken to the uncle about Mary’s rape and he has never been held accountable. I went back to Uganda in September last year for the first graduation of a Wakisa girl from a tertiary course, a Diploma of Nursing. It was a wonderful celebration of her achievement and indicative of the fact that care, love, persistence and encouragement can win the day and that lives can be rebuilt. This young woman has now found employment as a nurse and is going on to obtain her Degree in Nursing. Four other young women are also attending university, studying courses in accountancy, micro-finance, education and counseling – while life is still a challenge for these girls, the future looks bright, thanks to the generosity of their sponsors. And why do I go to Africa? Well, of course I love to help out and be useful and see how the lives of these girls can be changed (I have two daughters of my own!). But more than that, I get to learn more about God when I’m there. He shows me that life is not about me, it’s about Him – a wonderful revelation that’s all about freedom. I have also learned that He has a great plan for each day, so I can indeed let go and just watch Him sort things out – and of course, I have seen Him do some amazing things that resulted in Him being glorified – how amazing is that!! Greg Tebbutt - CVA Office Manager

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While each girl’s story is different, an example might go some way towards you understanding their life and prospects without ministries such as Wakisa -


Fundraising in Ch

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Is it even possible


If I was given a dollar each time I heard someone say that fundraising isn’t an option for Christian camps in Australia, I think….well, I think I may not have to be involved in fundraising! Part of my role at Crusaders is linked to raising funds to support Gospel ministry through camps and schools ministry. From that involvement I am convinced that it is not only theoretically possible for Christian camps in Australia to develop facilities and grow programs through fundraising, it is also actually happening. I know of several camping organisations in Australia who are currently raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in this way. A knowledge of the North American camping industry, where donors provide significant amounts of funding for both major capital projects and ongoing ministry, could discourage us. International comparisons note a much higher level of philanthropy in the United States. Although some analysts have questioned this view, noting that the different tax systems promote different patterns of giving, there seems no question that there is a strong culture of donor support, and of course there is a much stronger acceptance of summer camping as a way of life (which in turn fuels donor support). However, it should be noted that Australia also features very highly in terms of willingness to give money to fund not for profit activities. Back in 2004, some $11 billion dollars was donated to not for profit organisations in Australia. The December 2013 Charities Aid Foundation World Giving Index, once again rated Australia within the top ten countries in terms of individuals’ giving. These statistics and the fact that some organisations within our industry are receiving donated funds show that it is possible. But should we do it? For the Christian, the first response in considering such a question is to ask what the

Bible says. It is clear that the apostle Paul asked people to give donations and also reminded them to cough up when they may have lost enthusiasm! You can read of his request for funds in support of the Jerusalem church in I Corinthians 16:1-4 (including an indication that he also asked those in Galatia to do the same thing). He followed this up in II Corinthians 8 and 9. Amongst other things, this passage demonstrates four key principles: • Be able to tell people what has been, or what you hope to be, the outcome of your mission (9:11-14); • Ask people to provide (8:7, 11, 24; 9:4-5); • Be sure it is about God’s glory and not ours (9:13); and... • Make sure you have appropriate systems in place to account for the money (8:20). Paul’s example counters the view which is sometimes expressed that asking others for financial support is not relying on God’s provision. Instead, Paul reflects the Bible’s teaching that God has placed Christians in relationship and equipped them in different ways so that we would contribute to each other. This means that asking for funds should not be seen as imposing a burden on people, but rather providing an opportunity for them to be blessed as they participate in God’s mission. In encouraging you to contemplate this approach, please note that there are some important considerations. The following is not a complete list, but highlights four significant ones. First, if you have read the rest of I Corinthians lately, you will recall that, even though Paul could have asked for financial support for his direct ministry, he chose not to because he didn’t want the appeal for funds to somehow be a

ristian Camping? barrier to the Gospel. Read I Corinthians 9:1223. If you think that fundraising will not advance the Gospel in your ministry, then don’t do it. Secondly, recognise that you will need to allocate time (and therefore money) to raise funds. Fundraising ratios (that is the amount you need to spend to generate donations) tend to run somewhere between 10% and 50%, with around 20% normally being considered most suitable. The costs are higher when you are in the donor acquisition stage. Thirdly, be aware that you will have responsibilities for reporting. You certainly need to be accountable to those who have funded projects, but there are also various state and national reporting requirements depending on the amount of funds you raise and how you do it. (Your venue’s treasurer or auditor should be able to advise you on this.) Of course, we also recognise that we are accountable to God as stewards of the resources that are being entrusted to us. Fourthly, don’t allow your fundraising to take you off task. There may be times when you know you could get significant donor support if you divert your activities to a new area which is tangential to your mission. Don’t do it! History is full of organisations that have lost their way as a result

of chasing donor support and lost sight of their core purpose. My perspective in writing this is as follows: I want to see as many people as possible hearing the good news of the forgiveness and new life that is available only through Jesus. I believe that the New Testament suggests that if raising funds will advance your venue’s mission, then consider allocating resources to it. If it will be unhelpful, then don’t plunge in! Gary Hill. (Gary has been involved in Christian camping since 1979 as a volunteer and since 1987 as a member of staff at Crusaders. He currently serves as Christian Venues Association’s National Chairman.) Has this article whetted your appetite? Keen to learn more about developing fundraising for your venue? Join us at Connect14 Conference in July at The Tops and join in the Fundraising Workshop!!

Top five tips for raising funds for your ministry 1. Pray. God is the Provider so ask that He would stir people to respond. 3. Ask directly. Don’t just post out a brochure. (For a start there’s a good chance it won’t be read.) Also avoid the sort of announcement that happens often in church along the lines of “we are looking for some people to help with x.” 4. When you ask, point the person towards the outcome. You are not just building a new basketball court, you are adding a new facility because you believe it will attract more campers to come to camp where they will experience Christian community. 5. Be honest and accountable.

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2. Ask.


HOME SWEE Dealing with Homesickness

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One of the greatest sounds on a camp is that of children laughing, but one of the worst is when tears are rolling down their cheeks and they’re complaining their stomach aches and their head hurts...the curse of HAVE Q homesickness has struck again! What can be done it is e UALITY L E s s in these situations? Here are a few ideas: aren’t ential tha ADERS - O n there t the it’s be just to leade a Christian c r serve ause they have fun a s are god camp, love J ly. Th n the ca d be ‘c es e Thess m alonia pers. Hav us and wa ool’, instea y n m i n d n t s 2:7ean c on for the 12 for g quality le to love and as re a y ke m e th is p is p Th er a lace a a PRAY nd ar s don’t ge blueprint ders (see 1 Prayer is your first p. m ca y an i of f s’ e ) es t cc t will u ‘su love hey hom t resort. When you Includ do start m d and care esick in t sually resource, not your las h d i ging your reliance team ng camp p issing the for appro e first pray you are acknowled a c p ld ct of camp shou camp is a great rents as pa omforts o riately on God and so every aspe fh s. rt , re help, fo be in prayer espec of the lead ome. be brought before him e ing ially As well as pray on yo rship during, and after camp. unger homesick, leaders for anyone who is om cular for wisd should pray in parti ippians 1:9-11). (James 1:5) and love (Phil


DEVELOP COMMUN A QUALITY PR OGRAM IT A program a Y - If the camp communit ND re of the h y ighest qua more like and ly that th e camper lity, then it is far home at s won th desiring to e end of the we ’t want to go ek get out of there on th , rather than COMMUN e first nigh IC t! routines a ATE CLEARLY - Ch nd knowin ildren thr ive on g what is so do you expected r best to o f them, exp they know what is go lain everything cle arly. If ing on, wh it will be en, and w less likely h y, the that and unsafe (and then they will feel unce n rtain home...). start wish ing they w ere at

on camps s r e d a le ll lican ISTRY - A inistry (Ang m SAFE MIN fe a s in ained should be tr n regular courses). ss or s ru omesickne py h Youthwork ’s r e p m n-hap s, a ca Sometime aused by less-tha s are r c l that leade the a anxiety is ti n e s s e d it is know reasons an ations and u it s e s e th r prepared fo follow. to s procedure

CAMP CO NT calls hom ACT POLICY - Try e to cause mo as much as possib avoid phone re harm le (often than goo these preferable d). to camp dire tell parents they sh Instead, it is cto ou to contac r only in an emerge ld contact the t their ch ncy. If the y ’d ild them a le tter or po , then they should like stcard. In send also be e turn, nco write a lett uraged (and oppo campers can rtunity giv er home o e r to keep a camp dia n) to ry.

ET HOME... LISTEN, AFFIRM AND BE INTERESTED - The example above shows the need to listen to the campers, affirm they are safe and well looked after, and that you are truly interested in them and their well-being. BE AWARE - The most common times for children to feel homesick are when they aren’t being kept busy - usually during free time and bedtime. That’s when they realise/remember they are away from their comfy bed and normal environment. This is when leaders need to be ready to pray, love, listen and affirm. DIFFERENT SITUATIONS - Obviously there is no one method for dealing with homesickness. As well as the fact that everyone is different, various other factors may come into play. For example, often there will be prior knowledge and relationships with campers and parents on school and church camps, compared to holiday camps, which will affect the steps you take. REASSURE PARENTS - Promotional material and contact before camp should mention the training of the leaders and their ability to care appropriately for the campers. When the campers first arrive, the leadership team should do what they can to help put the parents (as well as the campers) at ease - introduce themselves,

show them around, briefly talk about the program etc. GOING HOME DOESN’T MEAN FAILURE - If a child is so homesick that all options have been tried without lasting effect, then it is actually the loving and right thing to do to allow them to leave camp early and go home. You have not failed - that camper goes home knowing what you have done for them (and hopefully why). Also, let them know you will continue to pray for them and that they are more than welcome to come on another camp. SHARE THE GOSPEL - An essential reason for running a camp is to tell people the good news about what God has done for them in Jesus. Everyone needs to hear about their heavenly father whose Son is preparing a heavenly home for those who trust that he is the way, the truth and the life. BEING HOMESICK IS OK! - Yes, that heading is correct! You see, in the end, if you are a Christian then you should be homesick because “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). As much as I love camps, when all is said and done there’s going to be no place like home. Ian Robinson, Youthworks

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Of course, sometimes there are occasions when contact does need to be made, which is when your prayers for wisdom and love come in handy! On one occasion, a girl on camp wasn’t feeling well. Eventually we found out it was her younger sister’s birthday that day and she felt like she was letting her down by not being there. We allowed her to call - at first she was upset when she heard her sister had received a Madagascar 3 DVD as a present, but when we pointed out she would still be able to watch it when she got home and that she was just about to go canoeing, she quickly realised she wasn’t that homesick after all!!


eneTheNationalSceneTh There’s been lots happening in the community of Christian Venues since our last National Scene update of 18 months ago. We hope you’re as excited about this content as we are! New Organisational Members Door of Hope Christian Centre (TAS) Tailrace Centre (TAS) Camp Grace (WA) Camp Kerem (WA) Foothills Conference Centre (VIC) Galwiji Homestead (VIC) Pallotti College (VIC) Ministry of Tech (NSW) Northside Conference Centre (NSW) Robert Menzies College (NSW) YMCA Sydney Olympic Lodge (NSW) Camp QLD (QLD)

Les and Marj Batchelor (TAS) Graeme Smit (WA) Trevor Blood (VIC) Georgia Pearson (VIC) David Wilson (VIC) Patrick and Chris Stephens (NSW) Paul and Leanne Corkery (QLD)

The following sites have gained NARTA Accreditation

Members who have Re-Joined Poatina Chalet (TAS) Abundant Life Centre Busselton (WA) Camp Logue Brook (WA) ESA Country Ministries (VIC) Campialba CYC (QLD)

New Personal Members

City CYC (VIC) Youthworks Port Hacking Conference Centres (NSW) Youthworks Shoalhaven Conference Centres (NSW) Youthworks Blue Mountains Centre (NSW) CYC Burleigh (QLD) QCCC Mapleton (QLD) Tunnel Ridge Ranch (QLD)

ISSUE 37 • Communicator

Some encouraging comments from our Events


• Personal testimonies are great. • A great way to talk to other sites about how things are going. • A challenge to my thinking patterns. • Helpful and inspiring. • Great to share the stories of the visions of those who established various sites. • Good to have times of encouragement and fellowship. • Good practical training with chainsaws. • A different way to enjoy the company of others – a day at the river and having water activities. • Good to have a time to have a close look at the CVA and CSC websites.

Chainsaw Training

Dave Attenborough at NSW MDD

Dave Tolman at SA MDD

Wayne Deeth at NSW MDD

BUSHFIRES IN An RFS Volunteer’s Perspective: October 17, 2013. The CVA Board was meeting at The Tops in NSW. It was hot, dry and windy - there was also a Total Fire Ban in place. In our short lunch break, we noticed a massive plume of smoke, thankfully blowing away from us… Very soon, it became clear that there were at least three massive fires on Sydney’s outskirts. The sky was filled with roiling clouds of black, grey and rust coloured smoke. Properties and lives were being threatened and hundreds were already engaged in protecting life, property and the environment (in that order). 200 homes and one life were lost that afternoon in the lower Blue Mountains alone. I spent that night leading a strike team of five tankers, firstly near Bell and then north of Bilpin, protecting homes and farm buildings from the fire, which had moved over 30km in the day and ultimately burnt out over 46,000 hectares. The following week was hectic as I did eight shifts with the RFS. Some weeks later, I was involved again, leading a group to fires in the Bathurst District for 4 days.

ISSUE 37 • Communicator

Why do I do this? I was asked that in an interview by the Guardian Newspaper; their article is here if you would like to read it:


What do volunteers do? They provide the backbone of the emergency services - they are required to train regularly for events they hope don’t arise, they respond to callouts (our brigade averages 60 per year), getting out of bed at odd hours or leaving work, family and friends to help their communities. It is a commitment that can become as large or as small as their time will allow. Most do far more that bush fires as house fires and car crashes are also attended.

It’s not just getting on a truck and putting wet stuff on red stuff during hot trying 12-hour shifts. There are essential roles in catering, radio communications, mapping, logistics, planning, transport – the list is long and the numbers in these areas are low. Recently, the Hawkesbury district’s volunteer caterers prepared over 13,500 meals and on one fire alone there were over 2,000 attendances over the length of the fire. Our communities need emergency services volunteers. Are you one of them? It’s a great way for CVA members to link with their communities. In 1995, I was challenged by a Canadian camp – they REQUIRED every full time staff member to be involved in one of their town’s emergency services (Search & Rescue, Ambulance or Fire). It showed a commitment to their community and ultimately their site’s safety as well! RFS volunteers have an adage, family first, work second, fire brigade third. But in times of emergency, you will see many of them reverse that order in order to serve you. When you see a volunteer firefighter, remember that behind them there will be family and workplaces that are contributing as well. Also please remember that, although great counselling services are available, many of them will see and experience great trauma and need to be upheld in prayer. As I write this, some areas have started to get much needed rain, but others continue in high fire danger. I have not attended a fire that I cannot remember praying as I went – for safety, for wisdom and for the ability to meet those objectives of saving life, property and the environment. Please pray with me. Ken Pullen, CVA CEO RFS, Hawkesbury District Group Officer

N AUSTRALIA I love living in the mountains and Youthworks Blue Mountains is a great place for kids to experience bushland in its natural state. Occasionally however, the bush needs regeneration. Whilst we think of bushfires as something terrible, in reality it is an essential and natural part of bush survival. What started out as a hot but beautiful day in October, quickly turned into something very different. We had 80 students arrive around 10am but what we didn’t know was that within 3 hours we would be evacuating our site and relocating to the emergency evacuation centre in Springwood. The fire started because of arcing wires and very quickly turned into a roaring inferno aided by high winds. I am grateful for my co-workers who all knew the ECO drill and quietly and efficiently enacted it, making sure the students and teachers felt confident and secure in following our directions. Finding buses to take the students from the evac centre to home was a challenge because all the buses had already set off to pick up other schoolkids – eventually we were able to obtain a bus from Peakhurst which is 2 hrs away. In the meantime, our very skilled team of leaders kept the students occupied and entertained with a variety of games. I was standing outside the evac centre, watching the billowing clouds of smoke, when a woman came up to me - she was covered in ash and her clothes were blackened. She told me that she had lost her home and no one knew where she was and was unable to contact anyone. I called her daughter but there was no response - at a loss for words, all I could do was hold her. I think that was the time that it all became very real.

On that and subsequent days, over 200 homes were lost in the Winmalee and Springwood area and many friends, contractors and co-workers were affected in some way. The mountains were on high alert for a week and our site became a secondary accommodation area. We received a call from the Dept of Housing asking if we could accommodate a nursing home that was going to be evacuated - we said yes and waited for several hours but then they rang to say they had found another place further away from the fire zone. This continued daily over the following week, with numerous calls saying people were coming and then calls saying they were able to relocate them somewhere else. On the following Thursday, they all but shut down the mountains and again the calls came saying that they would be using the whole of our site and to prepare dinner for 100 people sleeping bags turned up and case workers arrived and at 4pm with dinner underway, the RFS declared our site unsafe. What do we do with all the food? Bundle it up and take it to the evac centre of course. In times of crisis, it’s amazing to see the community pull together in such a wonderful way. People started to contact us at Blue Gum with offers of accommodation for families and we were able to relocate a number of them in this way. We also had a single mother and three children stay with us for 3 weeks in one of our empty staff houses. I can’t thank the staff at the evac centre enough for the way they prepared for our arrival and the wonderful work done by the RFS, many of whom lost their own homes whilst protecting others. Pauline Geier Manager - Youthworks Blue Mountains

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And from a Camp Manager’s Perspective:


We Are Never Alone A sense of adventure is a wonderful thing. We can get excited by uncertainty, stimulated and invigorated by the unknown. But there is an exception to the rule and that is when danger is looming. Some years ago, I took my two young sons sailing. We all had a sense of adventure and excitement as we cast off the mooring ropes. The wind was good and the sails billowed as we headed off at a good rate of knots towards the horizon. After sailing for a while and having travelled some distance from the shore, suddenly and without warning the wind dropped and we were becalmed. There was nothing, no wind nor breeze. The yacht was motionless, dead in the water. All was deathly quiet. We waited and waited for what seemed like an eternity but there was no change. I started getting concerned when I saw the anguish on my boys faces but I dared not show my dread as I whispered a quiet prayer. I reassured the boys that we would be okay as we were together and God was with us - we were not alone!

ISSUE 37 • Communicator

Then without warning, a slight breeze came from nowhere. It filled the sails with the power that ultimately took us safely back to the shore. This experience could be related to our Christian walk and our personal relationship with God. We read in the Bible that we are never alone, no matter what circumstances we encounter as we navigate our journey through life.


How is God with us? Jesus was with the disciples physically until He ascended into heaven and then He was with them spiritually, through the person of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). The Holy Spirit brought the presence of Jesus to the disciples to show that He would never leave them (John 14:26). So it is with us today, Jesus continues to be with us all the time through His Holy Spirit. In Matthew 28:20(b) we read, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The Lord is with us no matter what we may encounter. We may be facing sadness or joy, sickness or health,

success or failure, fellowship or loneliness. He is there with us - loving us, strengthening us, providing for us and protecting us. The Lord spoke to the Apostle Paul in Acts 18:10 – “I am with you.” Wherever we find ourselves as we sail through life, we are never alone. Let us remember the words of Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, never will I forsake you.” A quiet whisper of a prayer is all that is required. May we all be encouraged with these last words –

WE ARE NEVER ALONE! David & June Garratt Chaplains to Victoria & Tasmania

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