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There is a slight tear in the green felt of the smaller pool table at the Christian Youth Camp Pialba (CYC Campialba), Hervey Bay, Qld. It’s not huge but enough to make the billiard balls do strange things when they cross it. The balls themselves are not guaranteed to be of the same set or size for that matter either. These various idiosyncrasies make each game of pool unique; no two games are the same. The same could be said of each camp that happens at Campialba — no two are the same. The different make-up of leaders and campers, how they ‘bounce off’ each other and interact, as well as how they are led and guided, makes each camp a mission field in itself, a moment of time connecting individuals God has brought together, that will never be repeated.

For nearly 70 years Campialba has presented the gospel to thousands of people, both young and old, at its coastal location. While some of the basics of Christian camping remain the same (Bible studies, regular meals, and sleeping in huts), other elements continue to change in order to meet the demands and embrace the opportunities to show God's love to young people in exciting and creative ways.

Of bunks and ball games
THE campsite comes alive when there is a CYC Campialba-run event happening on site.
This might be a junior (primary school) or senior (high school) camp, Refresh (previously known as Ladies’ House Party), Missionary Rally, Men’s Camp, Full Time Workers’ Retreat, or Over 50s Camp.

There is a certain buzz around the place, particularly during the youth camps, with hundreds of young people sharing in fellowship, teaching and plenty of laughter for nearly a week at a time. These camps are run at a subsidised rate to allow as many as possible to attend. The youth camps present huge opportunities to immerse school children and teenagers into a Christian environment for a week.

There are changes in the wind as well, with Full Time Workers’ Retreat currently undergoing a review to bring it back to the heart of why it was created — to provide a cost-free break to those in fulltime service. (More details of these changes and updates will be available this year.)

Run by a small but dedicated sub-committee, the Missionary Rally, held every October, continues to be an uplifting and informative event focussed on those serving in the field.

Refresh has become the highlight of the year for many Christian women within the Wide Bay area and beyond, filling two-and-a-half days of spiritual teaching and fellowship.
The site is also used by school, sporting, tourism, musical and community groups for accommodation and catering on trips to Hervey Bay, while numerous churches throughout the region utilise the facilities for church camps throughout the year.

Camping still strong
THE camp has been through many changes since its birth in the 1940s. Records and committee minutes from those earlier years highlights the same issues faced today: the need for leadership training; the struggle to get enough camp leaders and directors; ongoing maintenance issues; and keeping the sponsoring assemblies informed and engaged with the works happening onsite.

The current committee contains a valuable mix of both experienced and youthful enthusiasm (a polite way of saying there are older gents and young blokes involved) from Biggenden Gospel Chapel, Bundaberg Bible Chapel, Gin Gin Community Church, Hervey Bay Gospel Chapel, Maryborough Gospel Chapel and Oakwood Community Church (Bundaberg). One of the main strains upon the committee is the time  required to uphold all that needs doing. Not surprisingly, the majority of the committee members also serve as elders, deacons or in pastoral roles within their various churches.

Nevertheless, the campsite flourishes with various improvements, thanks to the dedicated efforts of those who have a heart for Christian camping within the Wide Bay area.

Some of those improvements in the past five years include:

- Renovation of the upstairs meeting/singing hall
- Renovation of both the male and female toilet and shower block
- Building of toilets and showers into the verandahs of the ‘church side’ huts
- Lighting on the oval over the volleyball court
- Installation of state-of-the-art, industrial ‘combi ovens’ within the kitchen
- Installation of new floor in the dining room area
- Updating of the upstairs (meeting hall) sound system
- Renovation of the camp office located near the
Rec Hall.

While the physical buildings progress, the Lord has continued to provide the means for running Christian camps, faithfully raising up people to coordinate and organise the camps. The key to it, as many directors and organisers have found over the years, is not to rely on one’s own strength to accomplish all the required tasks. God has proven time and time again to be the ultimate camp director and pulls things into place as needed. “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

The committee has also made a commitment to undertake leadership training to help foster and equip camp leaders and coordinators. This will be assisted with funds from the newly established Clive and Claire Connell Memorial Fund.

New Faces
As yet another year dawns upon CYC Campialba, a new family will become the face of the camp as Terrence and Kathryn McCorkell take up the role of camp managers. Both Terrence and Kathryn come from teaching backgrounds with Terrence having held various senior management positions in schools and organisations, including as chief operations officer for Christian Community Ministries. They are no strangers when it comes to catering either; their six children ensure they are well-versed in managing people and organisation.

“For a number of years now we have been thinking and praying about taking on a role as a family which could involve all of us being actively part of a ministry together,” Terrence said. “Kathryn and I have long had an interest in doing this kind of role as a family. We have had a long affiliation with Campialba and have served as study leaders, camp coordinators or hut leaders over the years. Kathryn and I both have an interest in reaching people (including children) with the gospel. We are delighted to serve the Lord as a family in the camping ministry at Campialba.”

A guided future
CYC Campialba committee president, Andrew Lawrence, said there are ongoing challenges, not the least of which is working on a 70-year-old site, but God continues to provide the means to operate and bless those involved with the work.

“We’ve seen God change lives of those who have attended a Campialba camp, whether it’s through receiving salvation after hearing a gospel message, or reaffirming an older person’s Christian walk, or perhaps just planting a seed within a secular camp attendee through a verse on the wall or interactions with staff,” Andrew said. “It’s great to know that God is not only working through the camps going on here and now, but through generations connected to the work. Those influences go out beyond the front gate and stretch across the world, all for the sake of His kingdom.”

And as for the felt on the pool table, it’s not exactly on the priority list for the moment, with good reason. “Well, it’s a reminder that even the broken and tattered things in this world, including people, can be used for God's purposes,” Andrew reflected. “Besides, who wants every game of pool to be the same, right?”

By Ashley Walmsley

(Ashley Walmsley attends Oakwood Community Church and is the secretary of CYC Campialba.)

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