City Harvest Church’s Emerge youth camps are legendary for their non-stop, adrenaline-pumping activities, both physical and spiritual. But they do not come about without the blood, sweat and tears of the camp commandants. Two of them share the experiences from the camps that happened in June.
Squeals and laughter erupted from the beach as campers raced against each other across the sand, rushing to complete various challenges. Sweat flowed down their foreheads as the blazing sun scorched them. This was a common sight at almost every CHC Emerge youth camp held in the month of June.
But the campers were not the only ones sweating. Back at the campsite, the dedicated camp committee would be working tirelessly to prepare for the next activity. Putting up decorations, sound checks and rehearsals were just some of the things on the long list of duties that the committee had to perform.
When the church announced that Emerge camps were returning after a two-year hiatus, the youths erupted in excited cheers. They were all ready for a time of fun and encounters with God. But only the camp’s planning committee knew the huge task they had ahead of them.
In pre-COVID times, ideas and plans for the next Emerge camp would start being tossed about many months before June. But this year, time was not on Emerge’s side. Singapore’s relaxing of safety management measures only kicked in at the end of April this year. That meant that most of the committees only had around seven weeks to plan for the camps.
Also, many members of the planning committee had to juggle their camp duties with their day jobs. But for the joy set before them, these committee members endured great stress and personal challenges to make the camps happen for their zones.
JAEL TAN: I OVERCAME MY FEAR AND SAW THE BREAKTHROUGH
Jael Tan, 29, was the camp commandant for Camp Encounter: A New Beginning, organised by Pastor Edmund Tay’s pastoral zone. In the day, she works as a product designer in a tech firm.
“Most meetings were held at night, so we spent many late nights planning for the camp,” she recalls. “Most of us could not reply messages quickly at work, so a lot of information could only be disseminated at night.”
Thankfully, most of the camp committee had plenty of experience when it came to planning camps. In addition, the more experienced cell group leaders and Pastor Edmund oversaw the entire planning process and gave this year’s committee pointers what to look out for. The committee was driven and bonded together by one vision—to let the campers experience a new beginning.
As a reserved and introverted individual, Jael faced plenty of internal struggles when taking on the important role of the camp’s commandant.
“Growing up, I was a shy and quiet girl. I would never have dreamed of leading cheers or speaking in front of large crowds! A group of five is already very scary to me,” she admits. “Not only that, but I also struggled with planning ahead to make sure that everything was taken care of, and I had to stretch my mind to see the big picture.”
Despite her struggles, Jael overcame her fears with the encouragement of the committee and with God. Likening her experience to how Moses and Paul had stutters and struggled to serve God, Jael firmly believed that the grace of God is there for the things one is weak in.
“Although public speaking and acting may not be my strengths, I chose to lay down my pride and my fear of failure in front of God,” she shares, adding that God reminded her He does not call the qualified, but He qualifies the called. Hence, as long as one is willing to serve Him, His grace will be enough for them.
“Every day, I would remind myself that I’m not going to let this fear make me say no to God’s calling,” she adds. “‘I choose to say yes. Yes, I am going to face this fear, and I feel that breakthroughs are coming!’”
Seeing all the youths encountering God during the camp touched Jael’s heart, but the best part was that God did not forget her. The camp was transformative for her as well, as she heard God speaking to her tangibly to enter a season of rest, which fell in line with many of the prophetic words that were shared during the camp.
Another revelation Jael received out of the camp was that God was still reaching the lost. “During Covid, we were all spiritually stagnant and weren’t actively reaching out. However, when we took steps of faith and invited friends to the camp, we saw that the harvest is plentiful. No matter the season, God moves when we move,” she declares.
But no matter how hard Jael and her team planned the camp, the move of God could not be manufactured. It was through the prayers of the committee and the hunger of the campers that God’s presence came, working powerfully to give each one a new beginning.
KARUNA CHUA: WATCHING THE YOUTHS ON FIRE MADE IT WORTHWHILE
For Karuna Chua from the pastoral zone led by Kelvin Tan, planning for Campf火re was like a full time job after her full time job.
Karuna and her fiancé Jordan Ong co-own a wine business and the duo had to manage their business operations to make sure everything was running smoothly in the days leading up to the camp.
“When camp planning started, we were very excited because it had been two years since we last had a youth camp,” Karuna says. “But at the same time, we were also afraid that our work would be affected.”
They found themselves stretched in May and June this year as camp planning escalated, but they knew that God’s grace would be more than enough for them. Karuna served on the administrative and finance committee, and Jordan was even more heavily involved. Not only was he part of the logistics committee, but he was also a house leader and part of the programme committee. On top of that, the couple still had to hold the fort at their young company, Wine Paradigm.
Their business took a hit at the beginning of the camp planning period. Due to time constraints, they could not market their products and could only manage to sell the bare minimum. Despite the circumstances and the lack of sleep due to camp planning, God continued to fill Karuna and Jordan with joy and strength.
“Whenever a new order came in, we would be so happy because we knew that as we put God first, everything else will be added to us. As we build His house, He will build ours,” Karuna declares. Indeed, God was working in the background. Despite having little time for their business, they managed to bring in new sales and even investors.
On top of camp planning and running their business, the duo also lead a cell group together. This meant that the months of May and June were packed with ministry work, which proved overwhelming. Yet all their efforts paid off when they saw how the youths were being ministered to and touched by the presence of God.
Proverbs 11:25 reads, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” This rang true when God showed up and ministered to Karuna during the camp.
“I heard the Holy Spirit telling me, ‘Great is your reward in Heaven’, and I immediately felt so much faith and joy. Although we didn’t have time to focus on our business during this period, the reward of seeing many lives transformed and hearts set on fire for God was greater than any sacrifice we had made,” she says.
The efforts of every camp committee were surely not in vain. When one hears “youth camp”, the touching image of campers—and even some new friends—kneeling down and weeping in the presence of God come to mind. These are the fruits of their labour—all the weeks and planning and execution were worth all the blood, sweat, tears and sleepless nights.
So, amid all the fun, the encounters, the new friends made, the youths of Emerge must honour the tireless teams working behind the scenes of each camp. Thank you, Planning Committees!