“IN THE ‘boiler room’ (our prayer room) young guys were realising their need of God. Some were calling out to Jesus for the first time. In all, about ten young guys came to faith in Jesus and five were filled with the Holy Spirit. One guy just lay on the floor, unable to stand up because of the power of God’s presence. There was an atmosphere of both unity and repentance.”
This is how Sam Bentley, 17, described what happened when he went on a youth camp in Snowdonia with 40 other teenage lads. Sam lives at New Creation Farm, a Christian community house in Northampton. He continues:
“Climbing Snowdon was a mission with 40 other young guys. We helped each other out. I grew in my walk with God by helping other people. It was a good opportunity for the next generation to take their place, by training young guys to lead, a time of ‘scribbling’ for future leadership.
“The camps have given us great opportunities to make friends. We’ve carried on those friendships since and now we’re having prayer meetings at home. They’re all about finding God, there’s no organisation. We meet at random times after texting around. The other night we prayed from 10pm-4.00am. It’s the start of a grassroots movement, from down to up, a new vision and it’s connected to youth camp.
“Three guys have been baptised after experiencing God at the prayer meetings; there’s an expectancy as we meet together. The Holy Spirit is here and anything can happen. It all started with five of us; now there’re around 17.”
Melissa Wallis, 15, from Rugby, went on a girls’ camp in South Wales. Along with around ten other teenage girls, she stayed in, “a barn in the middle of nowhere, half-way up Table Top Mountain”.
She said: “Youth camp took us out of our comfort zones – out of our usual cliques and opened us up to others. I made new friendships and some of my old friendships grew stronger. There were quite a few tears; one night we were worshipping and opening ourselves up to God. I let go of emotion I’d been bottling up. I said ‘sorry’ to God as I recognised my sin. My relationship with God (and people) went to a deeper level. It was good to be just girls. We were less self-conscious when the lads weren’t around.”
Chloe Richardson, 17, from Coventry and a friend of Melissa, added: “We unlocked new friendships as youth camp leaders encouraged us to mix with girls we didn’t know. We let God in: it was very emotional and I needed to cry. God was healing me and my tears were washing away my pain.”
Nikita Halligan, 15, also from Coventry, explained that the camp was: “A time of opening up and sharing problems and difficulties,” and, “a reassuring time of faith-building rather than hard-hitting impact. Each person was visited by a leader to ask if we needed prayer; they only prayed with us if we wanted them to.
“I felt nervous in the days before the camp as I knew there would be a lot of new people and I’m not good at that; I felt I would be alone. Actually, I ended up friends with everyone and these friendships have carried on since – face-to-face and on Facebook.
“Things had been building up in me in the time before the camp. At camp I found release from that stress and began trusting God more.
“We went on a walk to a waterfall and went swimming in and walking by the river. We also walked in the rain. It was fun! I also enjoyed the times for meditation – time to be own my own, pray and have my questions answered in beautiful surroundings.
“If I go to university in the future, I want to stay in touch with God and remain part of church.”
A final comment from Sam: “I think youth camps are so important to the future of our church. There’s no show, no hype. If God is going to move, He’s going to move. They are a starting block for people setting out to run the race. They are decision time!”