Around 4300 teenagers from all over the South Island packed a holiday park north of Christchurch to celebrate Easter 2010.
“It was the biggest Easter Camp we’ve ever had,”says coordinator Mike Dodge. “At our first camp 15 years ago we had 300 young people and it’s just continued to grow. I think our youth pastors are doing a great job.”
Mike describes the camp as very much interdenominational.
“It was great to see so many youth groups getting together.
“I think Easter camp is a glimpse of how the kingdom of God is doing in the South Island and how our young people are being discipled.”
The smallest youth group took three youngsters to camp while the largest had more than 300.
He says the main aim of the camp is to retell the Easter story and make it relevant for today’s youth.
“It’s a great place for our young people to bring along their unchurched friends – we must get about 1000 teenagers who aren’t Christian or don’t go to church and they soak up the culture of our church youth groups.”
He says it takes a week to set up for camp and another week afterwards to pack down and another week to return everything.
“It’s huge and we couldn’t do it without the 200 volunteers who help run the camp.”
Mike says a highlight of this year’s Easter Camp was Saturday midnight mass taken by the Anglican bishop of Christchurch, the Rt Rev Victoria Matthews.
The logo for the South Island Easter Camp consisted of four interlocking circles representing Relationship with God, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Ourselves and Relationship with the World.
The guest speakers were Danielle Strickland from the Salvation Army in Melbourne, Justin Duckworth from Wellington, and Quinton Lloyd and Carolyn Robertson, both of Christchurch.
“We try to have a balance and include local speakers,” says Mike.
This year Carolyn rounded out the mountain-top experience of Easter Camp by talking about how people can live out their faith day-to-day.
Mike says a special tribute was paid to Alistair and Annette McGowan from Opawa Baptist who have organised the catering for the Canterbury Easter Camp since it started in 1995.