Most young Queenslanders have what is known as a “Schoolies” adventure in the weeks immediately following the completion of Year 12 at high school. This month Journey asked three young women who had very different Schoolies experiences how their Christian faith connected with that event.
Anna spent Schoolies at the Gold Coast with friends.
Having been brought up in a Christian home and small town, Schoolies was an opportunity for me to dabble in a fabricated snapshot of reality before leaving home and submerging myself in the uni culture.
The beach party phenomenon had infiltrated Noosa High in a way that left Schoolies at the Gold Coast as the most obvious choice for all of our friends.
Our school educated us on the dangers of Schoolies on the Gold Coast and impressed upon us the importance of looking out for each other and sticking together.
Suitably terrified by this scare tactic, I went to Schoolies with three of my closest girlfriends; girls that I trusted with my life, as we had been warned that they just might need to save it at some point during the week.
Thankfully this did not prove to be the case for my friends or me.
Meeting new people in a one-off encounter that this surreal environment created encouraged traditionally taboo topics of conversation, such as religion, to flow freely.
This prompted some debates about my faith that I had not previously prepared arguments for, revealing to me how easily faith can become a habit rather than an intentional action.
However, the most influential way in which my Christian faith connected with my Schoolies experience was how being faced with the all night drunken dance parties and copious numbers of eligible boys that are synonymous with and readily available at Schoolies, forced me to define and defend my values.
I could no longer rely on my parents’ beliefs as an excuse for my decisions.
I had to grow up, stand alone and claim the Christian faith as my own.
In so doing, I made some unreal friends and strengthened the bond with the friends I already had, as together we learnt to negotiate situations that accompanied our first taste of freedom and independence – lessons that High School couldn’t teach us.
Anna Mulcahy is the Youth and Children’s Ministry worker with Bundaberg and the Coral Coast Uniting Churches
Photo : Anna Mulcahy