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Glenn and Erin Mathews have been very gracious hosts. I know some of you are agreeing with me right now, as you have been the recipient of the same kind of treatment from them. They have hosted many mission and ministry teams from the states. They seem to have boundless energy and calmness. They remind me of the illustration of the calm duck moving across the pond.

Their church, Condell Park, which is hosting the camp, has a great burden for young people. Each year they put on a very large vacation Bible school for the neighborhood. As I looked through their prop storage I could tell the spirit of excellence will not be a new concept here. Glenn is making a “time machine” for the junior camp at the end of the week. People kept giving him the advice of just making it using a refrigerator box. His classic comeback was, “Anyone can make that kind of time machine!”  They also do weekly children programs for all ages. We were to start the training Friday night but the leaders of the programs did not want to miss their Friday night children’s programs. Therefore we are making Saturday a very full day of training and finishing up on Sunday afternoon.

Well, I’m off to train about 40 adults. Many are coming from other areas just to attend the training with the hope to help at camps in future years.

Report by  Dan Brooks

G’ day mate! No worries! That is the standard greeting and response you often receive here in Australia. Our time here has been a joy.  We have learned quite a few new customs and vocabulary words. I have always loved the Australian accent and now I am surrounded by it. They are extremely gracious and friendly.

There are several people familiar with The Wilds at Condell Park Bible Church. Along with Glenn and Erin Matthews there are some that have come “over the pond” to attend camps. Four American ladies here either worked or went to camp at The Wilds. These ladies are now married to Australian men and have served or are serving in the Christian school at Condell Park.  It has made us realize again, how small our world has become!

Yesterday we made the 2 ½ hour drive to the campsite with campers and counselors and made some beautiful stops on the way.  I am in awe of so many things we have seen. Most of the journey was made along the coastline and it was a sight to behold!  One of our stops was actually at a park alongside the beach.  We held our first competition right on the beach.  After lunch at the park, the campers got their first taste of BIG BALL and loved it.

The camp is being held at a camping facility called Shoalhaven in Nowra, NSW. Once again, it is a beautiful area! The grounds meet our needs perfectly. There is large playing field down 150 steps – kind of reminds me the steps at The Wilds in North Carolina. The 35 campers are split in to smaller cabins with a ratio of 4 or 5 per counselor.

As I am sitting in my “cabin” writing this letter. I can hear the campers outside enjoying 9-Square In The Air. It is wonderful to hear their talking and laughter.  It is especially nice since I can understand it. Dan and I have enjoyed being able to communicate with everyone in ENGLISH! I am always amazed at how quickly the campers come to love Dan. He is a master of “silliness” and the kids gravitate to him.

Dan and I have fun joking around with the people about how often they eat! They have breakfast (7:30ish), morning tea (10:00ish), lunch (12:30ish), afternoon tea (3:30ish), dinner (6:00ish) and then supper (9:00ish).  They usually serve some kind of sweet cake or cookie with their tea

One thing I have found surprising is the diversity of the people groups here. There are Sudanese, Egyptian, Indonesian, Iranian, Iraqi, Peruvian, Argentinian, and Chinese campers here at camp this week—I think there may be a few more that I missed. It is a beautiful sight to behold! It is interesting to hear their life stories and I wish I could tell them all in this letter. The one thing that I have realized AGAIN is that young people are the same all over the world. What a great privilege we have to impact their lives in some way.

Report by Amy Brooks

Safe travels home finished the whirlwind of the end of camp. The teen retreat finished Thursday at lunch and the juniors started with the same meal. The junior camp was just 24 hours long. The vast majority of both camps were young people from Condell Park Bible School. The teachers felt most of the students had a solid testimony. There were a few that joined the school that we were not sure about, but as the counselors inquired they were pleased to report everyone gave a solid testimony. Most of the counselors were teachers from the school. I was not sure how the young people would respond to their teachers as counselors, but since the teachers were already loved, it went very well.

Many of the other testimonies agreed with the blessing of the counselors. The Mathews said these young people had not attended camps where the counselors had been trained to interact with the campers. They commented how at prior camps the counselors arrived with the campers and had little or no instruction. As Amy and I left, the Mathews shared their excitement of the CampsAbroad camp philosophy they had received. This would make a big impact on their ministry and to other ministries that had pastors who attended the training but could not attend the camp.

Let me say again, what a blessing it was to have Amy with me and watch her love the staff and campers. Amy and Erin Mathews had an opportunity to counsel some girls through a situation that happened at camp.

One more little extra blessing; on the last afternoon of teen camp, Amy and I had about 15 minutes to sit under a beautiful tree by the river. We talked about how easy it is to forget you were in a foreign country and then a kangaroo hopped by!

Report by Dan Brooks

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