A weekend of building stronger relationships through recreation and sharing meals together was enjoyed by 180 people from The Salvation Army Hamilton City Corps at Totara Springs Camp, just out of Matamata.
The theme of the weekend was ‘Love Changes Lives’, with the feeling of being part of a huge extended family commented on by many.
The weekend started with groups playing sport in the gym, people chatting over cups of tea, and others lazing in the pool. Fathers were spotted strutting their sporting prowess against their teenagers at the start of the evening, but soon becoming spectators as their weary bones succumbed to injury and fatigue.
On Saturday morning we enjoyed the competition of a ‘Top Town’-style event with a mix of age groups in each team. There were balance activities, throwing challenges and relays involving water. Competition was fierce.
In the afternoon we headed down to the river where everyone enthusiastically took part in activities from kayaking, river tubing and swimming, to sitting under a tree chatting with new and old friends. The weather was spectacular, and it was great to see all the age groups enjoying each other’s company in such a fantastic relaxed setting. The faces of those who battled the strong current in their kayaks showed a sense of relief and pride as they reached the still water further up the river. This was a great practical lesson in resilience, and the strength we can have when encouraged by others who love and care for us.
Anyone who has visited Totara Springs will know about the challenge of jumping off the bridge into the river. It’s one of those experiences that rattles nerves, raises adrenaline levels and provides a huge sense of success once the challenge is overcome for the first time. Others recalled the significance of overcoming challenges like this from their past.
The Saturday night talent show was spectacular, with Hip-Hop moves, singing, gymnastics, acting, dancing, ukuleles and card tricks. This was an opportunity for anyone to share their talent in an encouraging environment, and it was great family entertainment.
During the interactive worship time on Sunday, Captain Marcus Collings led a spontaneous, modern-day drama about the Good Samaritan related to the theme of ‘Love Changes Lives’. We were challenged about how this could relate to how we live our lives today, and as a follow-up activity made gifts for our neighbours back home. Worship closed with a God-honouring time of small group prayer.
Since the camp, this concept of ‘Popcorn Prayer’ has been taken on board by families, including those involved in our Changing Places and Parenting Dynamic Families programmes. Popcorn Prayer involves anyone in the group sharing a short thank you-prayer in spontaneous order, just like a bag of corn popping.
Campers said they enjoyed the feeling of being part of a community that really cares, with others saying it was a great opportunity to meet new people. Parents appreciated having the time to interact with their children without the distractions of meal preparation and chores. One person said, ‘Camp has completely changed how our family get on. I am so thankful for the opportunity. We feel like a family for the first time.’