After a forced hiatus due to COVID-19, the North New South Wales Conference (NNSW) in Australia finally held its annual Big Camp in 2021. This year, event organizers scaled down the event and renamed it Little Big Camp due to the uncertainties of the pandemic.
“We decided to make all effort to put on this event because it is the heartbeat of our conference,” NNSW general secretary Abel Iorgulescu said.
“It was still a risk, and we had no certainty what the restrictions were going to be when we were planning the event,” NNSW president Adrian Raethel explained.
With registrations reduced by half and a detailed COVID safety plan that included an isolation accommodation facility in the event of a COVID case during camp, around 1,300 people gathered at the Stuarts Point Convention Centre in Stuarts Point, New South Wales, from April 14 to 17.
Little Big Camp also had fewer program tents than previous years, and campers were required to register for every worship program they attended. “This year, we had three tents, young adults, high school, and we also trialed an intergenerational worship program in the big tent,” Iorgulescu said.
The new intergenerational program focused on families and children aged between zero and 10, with the evening program starting at 6 p.m. and finishing at 8, one hour earlier than usual. “Usually, children would go to bed or fall asleep, but this time we had a special program, and the speakers and activities highly engaged them,” Iorgulescu said.
Children’s tents with fun and creative activities were available during the day.
The 18+ tent, for young adults, also featured a range of programs throughout each day and livestreamed the nightly sermons, presented by Warners Bay church pastor Joseph Skaf, centered on the theme “Say So,” inspired by Psalm 107:2: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (NKJV).
Sharing his story in a four-part series, Skaf inspired young adults on how our stories matter in presenting God to others. By the end of the series, 60 people committed to serving God by sharing their testimonies with others.
The initiative to use livestream started in 2020, when the camp was first canceled due to COVID lockdowns, and the NNSW young adults teamed up to create Big Camp Online.
“We decided to continue with the livestream this year because we knew there were people that wanted to follow along but couldn’t make it due to whatever restrictions or commitments, so we decided to make the message available for a wider audience,” NNSW Young Adult Ministries director Blair Lemke.
He shared that as the only livestreamed program on the campsite, they received positive feedback and thank-you messages for making the program available online.
“In every tent, the speakers did amazing,” Iorgulescu said. “People were happy with the programs they’d chosen to go to. Even though it was a little camp, just having something was a highlight to have people come back and have a taste of what we would like to do in the future.”