With the many planned events and rallies being impacted by the pandemic over the past two years, an exciting opportunity was afforded to our youth this year with DRASTIC Camp being hosted online.

The last week of September traditionally has up to 250 young people come together for DRASTIC at The Tops Conference Centre, but this year young people gathered around laptops and phone screens to engage with the week-long conference.

Focusing on the theme ‘What the World Will Never Take’, students were able to engage with daily devotionals on the life of Jesus, community-building activities, challenges, and live-streamed youth rallies in the evening. Although the camp couldn’t happen in person, the week replicated many of the camp’s favourite parts in an online forum.

As part of the planning team, Pete Sargent, from Connect Church Engadine, knew it was important to still host this event for young people.

“I think it was important to put on. From experience with my kids, it’s one of the things they look forward to the most; getting together with other Christians outside their local bubble, and for them to understand that they’re not on the journey alone,” Pete said.

“They got to meet new people when we were doing the online thing. It was really good to connect with people and create that opportunity regardless of our circumstance.”

Inevitably, the camp framework looked slightly different, with a primary focus on personal devotion time. This focus encouraged young people to dive into the scriptures in a new way.

“Our kids took a lot out of meeting together prior to a sermon and focusing their attention on God prior to a talk,” Pete said. “Our kids really enjoyed the devotions … day two of devotions we spoke on Lectio Divina, and it was a way to read scripture a little bit deeper. Sometimes when we do small groups, it can be talking and talking, but I think the process of Lectio Divina made it a lot easier to include scripture in general conversation.”

Melissa Kettlewell, from Southern Illawarra Church of Christ, attended the conference as a leader with her youth group and enjoyed the many aspects of the online experience.

“I found DRASTIC online to be a really interesting experience,” she said. “It enabled more of our youth to attend than has ever before, as well as our leaders. Previously I have been the only one of our leaders who has been able to lead on DRASTIC, so I enjoyed being able to share the experience.”

For Mel, the online conference challenged her perspective of what can be achieved in ministry through new and creative ways. Reflecting on what she learnt through the week, she said, “It doesn’t matter what form fellowship takes. What matters is investing in our youth and taking time to share and contemplate God’s word. Being online has reminded me of this.”

A big thank-you to those who were a part of the planning of this event: Ruth Lewis-Jones, Peter and Brianna Sargent, Tina Phillips, and Gil and Jade Corr.