“There are not many words that can express the experience of being at the Easter Camp,” sums up Janice (22) from Salem, USA. She is sitting amongst fellow volleyball enthusiasts, watching as some energetic young girls practice their spikes and serves and chatter in a host of different languages.
We are at BCC’s Easter Camp, the most anticipated, action-packed event at Oslofjord Convention Center in Brunstad for young people from Brunstad Christian Church (BCC) all over the world. For one week leading up to Good Friday, some 3000 youths from as far Australia and as close as Norway, where the event is held, gather for a unique, engaging week of activities and edification.
Participants are free to pick from a variety of 25 activities during the camp, ranging from ice hockey, drawing, LAN, horse riding, to even flying. Everyone is given the chance to do something they really have interest in, regardless of gender, the language they speak, or background experience.
Something for everyone
One satisfied participant is Flurina (20) from Switzerland. She had signed up for the professional background music course, where she learned to use industry-standard computer programs to produce original electronic music.
“At first it was a bit challenging, because we didn’t know the program, but we got really helpful tips. It was also really cool to see how some of the boys, who were quite young, having the ability to make such good songs already.”
The songs that the participants composed at the course were also uploaded on popular channels such as Youtube and Spotify. Some songs were even played at the ice hockey tournament and in one of the videos put together for the closing feast at the camp.
Best friends Daniel and Mikkel (both 13) from Norway, are also keen to share about the memorable time they had at their first Easter Camp.
“I had expectations, but it was much better than I expected!” says Daniel. Mikkel adds, “I did not miss home at all! We were drawing almost all day, and at the end we hung up our pictures and made a little exhibition.”
Being a shepherd
Another highly-anticipated winter activity that culminates at the Easter Camp is the ice hockey tournament. This year, 49 teams faced off in four age categories, including a girl’s tournament for the first time.
The atmosphere was electric as the puck dropped for the finals on game day, with the hall packed full of hockey enthusiasts cheering their home teams. Every match was a tight, and the Under-15 game, in particular, left coach Helge (27) from Norway literally breathless as he watched the young boys giving their all for gold.
“With a pulse of 200, I can say that it was a relief and joy when the referee blew the whistle in the last second, ending the match. Winning gold is the result of hard and targeted work from all the players.”
Helge spends much of the winter season on the ice in the city of Stavanger, where he lives with his family. As a captain of the team in his local church, he also personally takes responsibility for the young boys that are put under his charge.
“Being a hockey captain involves being a leader both on and off the ice. Even though I’m very interested in hockey myself, it’s even more important to be a disciple and a good example for those I’m a mentor for. It’s important to have an established mind so that my fellow players gain confidence and know where I stand.”
In such an event as the Easter Camp with so many activities going on in various locations, and a considerable number of teenagers travelling from all over the world, some for the first time without their parents, the ministry of a mentor – or a shepherd – is extremely vital.
The caring, careful eyes of some 800 youth mentors over the age of 20, who take the younger ones under their wings, is one of the reasons why such an event can go so smoothly. There is no mistaking an atmosphere that testifies of purity and well-being in a gathering of so many youths at the Easter Camp. This is no doubt the powerful effect of the gospel; the effect when likeminded young people have the same desire to rule over sin and self-seeking with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Encouraged to live a personal life with Christ
In the evenings, the young people gather in the meeting hall, where themed meetings, panel discussions and competitions have been specially arranged for them. There is a powerful spirit at these meetings, where the youths are challenged, strengthened and inspired to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
“For every one of you who have not come to a real decision in faith to live a crucified life with Him, do that tonight! This could be the most significant evening you have had all year, and even for many years to come!”
The message proceeds powerfully and clearly from the podium on one of such evenings. It was a message that went straight into Flurina’s heart.
“I have decided to put off the ‘old man’ (my old life where I gave in, Romans 6:5-7), and give my life to God and become a completely new person, who only wants the best for the others!”
All too soon, the Easter Camp has come to an end, but what the young people have experienced will stay with them. In addition, their “engines” are topped up all the more at the Easter Conference that follows, where they are joined by their families – young and old – gathering in one location for fellowship and to hear God’s clear, sharp Word. There is no doubt that this year’s Easter week will be a significant, decisive time for these young people.