We all need family. We all need support. We all need to be meaningfully connected to peers and older generations who care about us. We all need people who will speak into our lives as we walk with Jesus. These needs are especially true for our young people from small churches in isolated areas.

Last year the leaders of the Adventist churches in Southland and Otago came together to look at ways to better connect and support one another. One of the first ideas to come to fruition has been a regional Youth Camp over the weekend of March 6-8 in Gore. Pr Tulaga Aiolupotea and Pr Peter Taivairanga both took the lead in organising and running an incredible weekend of worship, food, fun, fellowship and connection for the teens, youth and young adults of churches from Invercargill, Dunedin and Queenstown. It was also such a blessing to see all the caring adults who were part of the weekend as drivers, helpers, cooks, leaders, supporters, cheerleaders, and a listening ear (special mention to Liz and Vineta for all their work in rego and the kitchen).

Highlights of the weekend included Tulaga’s practical worships on enemies of the heart, Louahna’s fun worship activities, the yummy meals, Sunday morning on the kayaks and zipline, and Friday night’s bonfire with mega marshmallows and deep conversations. The weekend was a huge success in meeting its dream of providing a space where young people could deepen friendships with each other, their Lord, and caring adults from their church.

As the weekend wrapped up, the desire was to make the Southern Adventist Youth Camp an annual event to help provide consistent opportunities for the young people of Southland and Otago to grow closer together and with their God. We wish them every one of the Father’s blessings as they continue this venture of strengthening family connections.

– Lance Boulton, South NZ Conference Youth Pastor