On Monday, the 2nd of December, 50 young people braved the fierce winds and chilling rains to take part in the Salesian Leadership camp at the Don Bosco Camp & Centre in Safety Beach, Victoria, Australia.

The camp ran for 4 days and offered an all-encompassing program that immersed participants in a wide variety of information, theories, games and experiences. The camp begun at 11am when the bell rang, signalling the long-awaited of camp via icebreaker activities!

Fr Chris Ford joined the group later in the day to give an introduction on who Don Bosco was and therefore, what Salesian ministry is truly about. The group split off into smaller groups to discuss specific stories from Don Bosco’s life, which they then shared back to the rest of the camp.

Chris Ford speaks to the leadersFr Chris gave a session with plenty of oppurtunity for groupwork and creativity.

Fr John Papworth was the next guest speaker, who led a session on happiness formation. He ensured that everyone in the group understood to key points; how we bring happiness to the lives of young people and perhaps even more importantly, why we do it.

After the usual delicious camp dinner (thanks Suzie, the best chef in the world!!), the camp then turned to fun and games for the evening, giving participants some time to relax and burn some energy off. Some staple games were played such as Jockey Up, Steph’s Mum’s Game and Camouflage, as well as twists of others, including a giant rendition of the classic card game Spoons!

Giant game of spoonsPlayers scramble to ensure their team is not the only one left without a spoon!

The camp awoke to a freezing Day 2; brisk sea winds and occasional showers were a feature all day long. To help combat this, activities kicked off with group dancing and aerobics, in order to get everyone’s heart’s pumping and blood flowing!

Afterwards, the group split up into smaller groups once again and this time, headed down to the nearby beach. There, they spent an hour cleaning up the local beach side of any and all rubbish, giving back to the local community that they receive so much from every year.

young leaders clean saftey beachWhile the amount of rubbish found was no surprise, some of the items discarded certainly were!

Returning from the beach, the group found keynote speaker Mark Collard ready to go. Mark is a very experienced program facilitators, well known for writing a series of books and creating a website dedicated to the facilitation of games and activities.

Mark was a charismatic presenter who ran a very valuable hands on day; his style involved running a game or two, then explaining what he did, why he did it and getting feedback from the group. This style encouraged learning and allowed the young leaders to become aware of and pick up behaviours that they could emulate when it comes to their turn to run activities for young people.

Double Dare was the evening’s entertainment, an eclectic pseudo-quiz night that involved group members taking part in a range of physical challenges. These challenges ran from the mundane such as seeing who could make the best paper plane or draw Captain America’s shield, to the insane; mummifying team member’s in toilet paper or diving through pools of jelly to find a frozen pea!! It was a full-on experience, that ended in a mini-dance party and after it was revealed that the great camp coincidence had occurred once again – the scores were level, and everyone was a winner!!!

search through jellyRepresenting their teams, it became a sticky struggle for the four volunteers to find the hidden pea!

Day 3 was the day everyone had to put everything they learnt into practice, as the camp had colluded with a local primary school to organize an afternoon of activities for the students, run by the leaders!! The morning saw everyone attentively listen to the child protection policies of the camp, as well as planning time for the afternoon at the school.

Each classroom at the school was assigned a group of 4-5 leaders, who were responsible for planning and running an hour’s worth of fun and games for the students. This was a thoroughly enjoyable time for all, as well as an invaluable experience for the young leaders; for many it was their first ever time planning and running a series of activities for young people. This sort of activity takes a lot of preparation and trust, so a massive “thanks and well done!” is due to the staff of Our Lady of Fatima primary school, as well as our very own leader on camp Taylor, who took on the role of co-ordinator for the afternoon.

On the way home from the primary school, the group was dropped off at the Dromana pier. The groups of 4-5 then broke off and begun the trek home, giving them time to debrief their experience, learning from one another, commenting on what could be improved for next time and commending each other for acts done well. It was a very wholesome experience that no doubt sowed the seeds of personal growth and development to come!

young leaders beach walkThankfully, the sun came out at just the right time to make the beachside walk most enjoyable!

Wednesday night on Leadership Camp is always a special one – it is the legendary Talent show night! The acts were as brilliant as they were varied – the highly skilled spinning of a basketball, the soul-touching performances by musicians, the weird haircuts, the inspiring displays from different cultures, the wacky antics of a magic show, the brilliant dancers – there was a smorgasbord of talent, something for everyone!

young people play guitar and singFrom the beautiful to the bold and everything in between, all of the acts at the 2019 Leadership Camp talent show made it an instant classic!

Day 4,the final day, of the Salesian Leadership Camp came all too fast. Groups explored the oratory model through an arts and crafts activity as they learnt the importance of involving all four aspects in a Salesian environment: home, school, parish and playground. Afterwards, the entire camp community came together for mass, celebrated by Fr Shane Reade.

One last information session was left; past camp leaders Michael and Felicity Walter visited just before lunch to talk about the creative process when it comes to planning and running games. This was a very pertinent session to end on, as it left some final thoughts and ideas fresh in everyone’s mind, ready to take into the camp season in January, or back home to youth groups and parishes.

Mazzarello Oratory GroupThe Mazzarello Oratory group pose for a quick photo before returning to their work!

After lunch came the photo slideshow, the thank-you’s, the stay in touches and one final trust exercise, before everyone said their farewells! And just like that, the camp was empty of people, already looking forward to the hundreds of campers ready to join the incredible community in just a few weeks’ time!!