Posted in Camp life
20 years ago, a young Wade Stickland was preparing to go on SchoolzOut to celebrate the end of his primary school years. A big milestone in the life of every child, it is special to be able to enjoy this momentous transition with old friends and a lot of new ones. Wade really loved his experience and it has stuck in his memory ever since.
“That’s what I remember from my time as a camper. The end of year celebration. You may have had a great time with your friends at the end of primary school but SchoolzOut is great to go away and have a great time with a whole different bunch of great friends,” says Wade.
20 years on, Wade is now a leader on SchoolzOut helping other young people mark this transition to high school with a week-long celebration. Gearing up for SchoolzOut 2015 from 14th – 18th December, Wade knows why the camp is such a great time for so many young people.
“I see it as an end of year celebration. That makes it fun. We try and have a really good time, focussing on that transition between being leaders at primary school and then beginning at high school, starting a new phase of life.”
SchoolzOut Camp Director, Greg Peirce (pictured), also acknowledges this celebration as the focal point of camp and believes that this time can open up a lot of questions in young people’s lives as they consider the bigger picture.
“It’s a great way for the kids to come and celebrate the end of primary school. I think it’s great for all of us regardless of what age we are to acknowledge certain milestones in people’s lives so this is a way that they can come celebrate a certain stage of their life. It’s a celebration but then also they’re moving into something new,” says Greg.
“From a spiritual perspective, it’s a good opportunity for them to take stock of their lives, even though they’re only in Grade 6. They’re moving into something new so they’re growing up and can be dealing with the questions of God and how He fits into their lives. It opens up the avenue to ask those bigger questions of God and of life and of meaning. Is there a God and if there is, do I have a place for Him in my life, particularly as I transition into High School?”
Wade’s presence, and that of the other leader’s on camp, can be a calming and reassuring presence as the campers deal with this transition and the possibility of having to make new high school friends and deal with an increased study load in the new school year. Greg believes that Wade’s experience on SchoolzOut opens up another avenue for all the campers to have a positive outlook on what can be an anxious time.
“I think it helps the students to see us leaders as real people as well. So Wade could say “I came on this camp when I was a kid” and they would say “Oh, yeah. You were a kid too and went to Primary School like we did”. It helps the students to see us all as real people and that we’re just like them and were their age at one stage,” says Greg.
The campers can then see that there is a way through and that high school isn’t necessarily a scary place and that they can tackle it head-on.
Wade also has some sage advice for those considering volunteering on SchoolzOut, or another SU camp, as a camp leader.
“Look at it as a great time and a great opportunity. Not only do you have the opportunity to minister and help the campers grow in their faith, you get to have a great time yourself and make new friends with the other leaders,” says Wade.
“I always factor it into my calendar and sacrifice a week of annual leave from work because I know I’ll be spending a week away and have heaps of fun at the same time. Don’t be put off by thinking that you’re giving something or sacrificing anything because you’ll actually get heaps out of it as well.”
But Wade isn’t just a valued volunteer leader on SchoolzOut for his experience as a camper. Greg loves having Wade on the camp because of his servant heart and charming demeanor.
“[Wade is] someone who’s faithful and he’s got a real heart for the kids. He knows, having come of the camp himself, how camps can be an impact and God can use them to change people’s lives. He comes in year-in-and-year-out and we love having him.”
If you’d like to join Wade and Greg on SchoolzOut, either as a leader or a camper, visit sucamps.org.au/SchoolzOut2015 or phone 1300 478 753.