After a three year-hiatus, Emerge Polytechnic Society’s Rave Camp finally made a comeback! This year’s edition had the dual purpose of gathering students that have lost touch during the pandemic, and integrating new faces into this vibrant aspect of tertiary life.
Covid might have put a damper on Rave Camp for a while, but the planning committee of this year’s Camp poured in months of tireless work to bring back the highly anticipated event.
Organised by Emerge Polytechnic Society (EPS), City Harvest Church’s youth movement for students in the polytechnics across Singapore, Rave Camp was first introduced in 2014 to unite students through thrilling activities and power-packed preaching and prayer sessions. It had always been a highlight for those in the polytechnics, as they can bond and forge friendships with other like-minded individuals, until Covid happened.
Thankfully, after three long years, the green light was given for the return of Rave Camp. This year’s camp was themed “Homecoming”—an even to rebuild the community. This year’s edition was made even more special with the inclusion of ITE (institutes of technical education) students for the first time.
HOMECOMING FOR THE CAMPERS
The activities at this year’s Rave Camp ran on a storyline: campers “entered” an alternate universe plagued by a global pandemic. The attendees were split into two opposing teams—the researchers and mad scientists—both determined to be the first to get their hands on the cure. There was a twist to the tale: the campers eventually realised that the only way to survive was to fight together as a community and not against each other.
From the sandy shores of Sentosa to the grass patches of Jurong West, the campers braved the blazing sun to triumph over all the games and challenges that were thrown at them.
Each day brought a different type of challenge. On Day One, the teams raced against the clock in time-based challenges; on Day Two, they battled opposing teams in station games and on Day 3, they competed in a final “showdown”. Campers would emerge from each game coated in different “ingredients” ranging from beach water to flour, which only heightened the squeals of excitement.
This year’s Rave Camp also boasted an impressive line-up of speakers: Pastor Edmund Tay and pastoral supervisors Josephine Lim and Catherine Lee preached up a storm during each of the night sessions.
Throughout the sessions, God’s tangible presence saturated every corner—it was as if heaven had come down to earth. Many of the campers were powerfully impacted by the night sessions and experienced deep healing and deliverance. As they fell to their knees with tears in their eyes, God worked wonders and miracles in each of them. This was what marked Rave Camp: new doors were opened, shackles were loosened and broken hearts were mended.
RIDING THE STORM
To give the students a taste of a traditional Rave Camp, the planning committee enlisted the help of some EPS seniors, who sacrificed their time to oversee the planning and execution of the camp. Their advice came in handy because the current committee did not have the chance to attend previous Rave Camps due to Covid.
“I was motivated to give the juniors and freshies a taste of what campus ministry was like; how youths with a common goal would come together to spur each other on daily and walk together with the Lord,” described Ezekiel Lee, 19, who served as the camp commandant as well as the band’s music director.
However, many challenges awaited the committee leading up to camp. Besides having few hands for the huge amount of work to be done, the period of planning also coincided with their examinations, a crucial time particularly for the final-year students. Despite the unfavourable circumstances and the short lead time, the committee poured everything they could into the camp.
“Initially, it was tough not having a clear benchmark to work towards in terms of bringing the campers the whole experience,” said Ezekiel. “However, I was glad that we ultimately set our own ‘standards’ by carrying out our roles to utmost excellence.”
Rayn Chiang, 19, oversaw the marketing of the camp and served in the band. She admitted he struggled during the initial stages of planning. “Having never done marketing before, I felt inadequate for the role as I honestly did not know what I was doing. All I knew was that I wanted to be part of this process, and I am so thankful that I had seniors and friends around to guide and support me,” she shared.
“I came to realise that although we were so imperfect in our ways, everyone was still willing to give all they had to the Lord. When I was struggling, I looked to God and he reminded me that He sees my heart, and that was more than enough.”
LIVES TOUCHED AND IMPACTED
Despite all the hiccups and challenges, the planning committee was heartened to see the campers deeply impacted by Rave Camp 2023. For many of the campers who had never tasted Rave Camp and EPS, this was an especially memorable experience.
One of the most special night activities was Vulnerable Night, where campers were encouraged to share their struggles in response to carefully curated photographs within their teams. It was particularly touching for Chiam Zhi Quan, a 17-year-old Ngee Ann Polytechnic freshman.
“After I shared how I was impacted by the Father’s love, Rayn came to me and said that God will always show His love for us in some way or another daily. He doesn’t need something major like a camp session to remind us of His love. This reminded me that God is always by our side and will never forsake us,” she said.
ITE student Ryan Ho, 19, shared, “When I began to open up to share about my past hurts and struggles, I initially felt that nobody would care. However, after sharing, my teammates started to come forward and pray for me, which made me feel so comforted and loved by the people around me,” he said.
The sessions also hit home for many of the campers, particularly 21-year-old ITE student Jeremy Ang, who experienced God powerfully. “On the second night, I responded to Josephine’s altar call for those who are struggling with anger. As I knelt before God and lifted my hands in His presence, tears began to fall as I surrendered all my anger to Him,” he described.
The anchoring worship song of the camp—”Homecoming” by Bethel—reminded the campers of God’s immense and unconditional love for each of them. After years of inactivity, this was indeed a song for the moment.
“When we sang the lyrics ‘The Father is welcoming, this is our homecoming’, a vision that I received two years ago started playing in my mind repeatedly,” said Zhi Quan. “In that vision, I was a child running into the Father’s embrace. God was there patiently waiting for me to run back to Him, not upset that it took me some time. Instead, He warmly took me into His embrace.”
“I think for all three night sessions, God the Father’s love for me was a recurring topic, and at every session I was so touched by His overflowing love and grace towards me.”