When people celebrated the turn of the year from 2019 to 2020, they wished each other a Happy New Year and hoped that it would end well. No one prepared the world for COVID-19. Nobody told us that this year would be a year of crisis. Yet through every crisis opportunities abound. The Scottish and Welsh Mission Sponsors were determined that their Adventurers and Pathfinders would not finish the year with only negative memories of 2020. Both Missions saw an opportunity to collaborate and remember God’s promises to his children.
The theme 'Arc of Hope' was birthed from the realisation that God has always kept His promises, right from Noah through to the end of time. God’s promises are true, and this knowledge gives hope even in such times as the world is currently experiencing.
None of the Adventurer and Pathfinder Sponsors for both Missions, nor the club leaders, had run an online camp before. Everyone was challenged by the fact that every child matters, and the pandemic would not stop them from organising an event to allow children an opportunity to hear God speak to them. Where possible, children were invited to set up indoor dens and outdoor tents to best enjoy the experience. The response was overwhelming as children and parents from both countries and the wider international audience, heartily set up their dens and tents to enjoy the e-Camporee from Thursday 30 July to Sunday 2 August.
One opportunity arising from the COVID-19 crisis was the fact that through the use of technology, the world has been made smaller, so the organisers took this opportunity to draw speakers from around the globe. The North American Division (NAD) Associate Pathfinder Director, Pastor Armando Miranda, was the opening night speaker. He spoke about the Ark being a symbol of hope and salvation. Pastor Clifford Herman, the South England Conference (SEC) Pathfinder Director, shared a beautiful illustration of how the Japanese repair a broken glass with gold, making it the most expensive piece of equipment. The message reminded the listeners of the hope in restoration, and how Jesus Christ paid the most expensive price on the cross for every child. Pastor Jennifer Ogden, of the NAD, expressed, with deep enthusiasm, a message of hope in the resurrection, as she underlined that when the world says ‘You Only Live Once’ (YOLO), Adventurers and Pathfinders had a more hopeful message of You Only Live Forever (YOLF).
Saturday night was packed with not only a message from Chitiga Mbanje from Zimbabwe but also watching ‘Missions got Talent’. Chitiga reminded us about the hope of eternal life. It was a joy to watch the beautifully put together video clips showcasing the children’s talents. We laughed, clapped, echoed ‘amens’ but above all were thoroughly blessed. - In the closing message, Pastor Simon Siew shared beautiful stories reminding us of the hope in Jesus’ second coming, and that it may happen sooner than we think.
On Sunday morning while we shared a breakfast of pancakes and rainbow inspired food on our Zoom platform, we wondered how it might have felt for Noah and his family after the flood when they finally had their first breakfast with their feet planted firmly upon the restored earth.
Cedrene Botha, aka Professor Noodlebrain, demonstrated experiments and illustrations that emphasised the daily themes in a visual and engaging manner, while the daily health tips provided fascinating and timely fun-facts on health.
To mimic the interaction we enjoy at Camporees, the children had fun with virtual exercises, crafts and Kahoot-based quizzes.
Ultimately, we sincerely believe the motive of ‘Pathfindering’ is to lead children to be friends with Jesus. Therefore, the highlight of our first joint e-Camporee, the first of its kind in the British Union were the prayer requests and the decisions for Jesus Christ submitted through the e-commitment cards. It was such a humbling experience and a huge source of motivation for the enthusiastic club leaders.
We would like to express our appreciation to the all presenters, technicians, parents, guardians, club leaders and both Mission presidents for their unwavering support. Special mention to the BUC Youth Ministries Director, Pastor Dejan Stojković for making himself available throughout the camp.
We, the leaders are hopeful that when the Scottish and Welsh Mission children remember 2020, they will not be stuck with the memories of the devastating pandemic but instead remember the 'Arc of Hope'.
Some of the children’s reflections, captured by Joy Phiri, Aberdeen, are outlined below:
"Overall, the e-camporee was a fun and enjoyable experience. Hearing about an e-Camp at first, we thought it would be something that would not work and wouldn’t be enjoyable enough, but it was something different and new." - Welsh Mission
"It gave us lots to do throughout. The whole structure of the camp was great, we enjoyed every programme that was on." – Welsh Mission
"We learned something new from the doctors; we enjoyed all the stories and messages from the preachers and Professor Noodlebrain; putting the preachers in the spotlight and hearing their embarrassing stories was fun!" – Scottish Mission
"It was a fun and enjoyable experience camping at home. We wish for more sessions like these if the lockdown is to continue." – Scottish Mission