THE MID-YEAR school holiday is the season of Day Camps around the Uniting Church in Queensland.
This year the Oxley Uniting Church Day Camp celebrated 30 years with 125 campers, 55 high school-aged leaders and 40 adult helpers.
Gail Rankin grew up attending Day Camp, then became a leader and is now co-director with Jenny Hudson.
Ms Rankin said the camp is always well attended with children travelling from around Brisbane to attend.
“We get a lot of kids from the Uniting Church but also other churches around the area and people from outside the area.
This Day Camp is 30 this year and we’re still going!” she said.
Oxley Uniting Church member Carol King also attended as a camper before continuing to enjoy the fun of Day Camp each year as a leader.
“The little boys are just so cute and it is really nice when they say that they like you and that they are having a good time. It’s really fun,” she said.
Campers enjoyed music and worship, painting, rock climbing, games, cooking on a fire and much more.
Seven hours west at St George the Uniting Church Day Camp was also underway.
For the past three years the Go West volunteer team from the Redlands Uniting Churches has been offering leadership and training local leaders, and this year the St George team took the leadership with Go West support.
St George Day Camp coordinator and local school teacher Sue Anderson said next year the local Uniting Church team will be doing it on their own.
“This year we had 54 children attending the camp which was held right on the riverbank in a bush environment.
“The kids go off into the bush every morning and build their own little gunyah or shelter which is their headquarters for three days.”
As well as the usual flying fox, archery, parallel ropes and craft activities, this year St George Day Camp featured a chapel staffed by two of the leaders with guitars.
“Groups could book in to come for singing and learning their Bible memory verses and it worked really beautifully,” Mrs Anderson said.
“This year in particular it’s been wonderful seeing our years eight, nine and ten young people sharing faith with the smaller children and for the children to look up to these young adults and say it’s OK to be a Christian, it’s OK to talk about God and its OK to believe,” said Mrs Anderson.
“The Go West team has just given us such an amazing gift and it’s up to us now to grow with that and maybe it’s something we can do for someone else at some stage too.
“I can just imagine us, getting on a bus and going west to somewhere else a little further out and teaching someone else how to do it.”
Go West team member Emma Nichols said, “It has been a great experience and it’s exciting to see the talent in the St George team and the potential for the future.”
Oxley Day Camper Jack said his favourite activities were “Painting and plastering”.
Jack said if he wasn’t at Day Camp he would be “staying home a lot”.
Jack’s friend Jai enjoyed the games, singing and thought his leader Carol was great.
The great tradition of Day Camps will continue next year with camps all over Queensland, but in the meantime the children and leaders will have fond memories of smoky clothes, unusually cold weather, tasty damper, and lots of laughter.
This year the St George Day Camp was also supported by a grant from the Uniting Church Foundation .
Photo : Oxley Day Campers Jai and Jack hang out with their leader Carol. Photo by Mardi Lumsden