After so much uncertainty, we were thrilled that we were able to run sixteen virtual Camps between Easter and August. Virtual Camps used a range of online approaches - with one doing a mixture of virtual and some face to face in small groups. Some Camps provided boxes of resources for young people to engage with at home during sessions. There were games, crafts, activities, teaching sessions, small group discussions and worship; all the usual elements of a Camp, just done online.
We asked one of the Main Leaders, Rosy McLean, to share her experience of running Cranfield Camp this year.
Tell us about Cranfield Camp
It (usually!) takes place under canvas in the beautiful setting of the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland. It’s for 10-14 year olds and is a Camp that means a lot to a lot of people. It’s been going on the same site since 1974 after moving from Guysmere, in Castlerock, where it had been running since 1934! I’ve been involved since I was 10, coming up for 20 years now, and I co-lead it with Dave McCluskey.
How did you feel when you realised you wouldn’t be going to Camp this year?
I think when Dave and I first realised it wasn’t going to happen, it was really gutting and we tried to hold on as long as we could. Then we had to decide whether we would do something virtually or just leave it altogether and, although the temptation was to leave it, with hindsight I’m glad that we chose to pursue doing some sort of virtual programme.
What sort of programme did you put on?
So what we landed on was trying to deliver and simulate an evening session for our Campers. Evening session is a big part of Camp. We all come together in the big marquee in the dark with lanterns and we do some worship, singing and dancing, we have a memory verse, the infamous Cranfield News about what’s happened during the day, and most importantly we have a speaker.
Our theme was ‘waiting’, waiting for God in different circumstances and scenarios and what that looks like, especially in this year which is so different. We had six evening sessions during the week with pre-recorded talks which were brilliant and really hit home whilst various Leaders led the other parts of the evenings. We have a really good video-editor, Mark, on our team and he put loads of work into making very professional videos which we sent out to the parents each evening.
What else did you do?
Campers were sent a pack including the usual handbook with leaders bio’s, fun activities and discussion questions; a handwritten card from a leader, and a bookmark with our memory verse on. Campers participated in challenges like recreating movie scenes that were posted on our Instagram. We had a virtual prayer in-box so Campers and parents could email us with their prayer requests and we would share that with the leadership team.
We didn’t run activities during the day - we just encouraged Campers to send footage of themselves doing challenges in their packs which we uploaded to the Instagram account. We also had a leader challenge every day on Instagram where the Campers would vote for what one of our leaders Mark would do (e.g. down a pint of milk or do the ice bucket challenge). But the main crux was the evening sessions.
What was the reaction from the young people?
We weren’t really sure how it was going to go but we got some lovely encouraging feedback including photos and videos. Some very committed Campers even put up tents in their garden to watch the evening sessions on which was so encouraging for the leaders who put in loads of work. It allowed for real creativity from our leaders and real dedication in a different way.
It was hard too. I think that we all really missed Camp and there were some times during the week when you just thought, ‘I would love to be there and camping’, so it definitely wasn’t an easy year but I probably underestimated how God could move during that so it was quite humbling actually – the work that He managed to achieve through our wee team. I’m hoping that Camp doesn’t have to look like that again but it was wonderful to be part of a team who came together to be creative in the midst of sadness at not being able to have ‘real’ camp.
We are delighted to share details of our provisional 2021 Camps programme. Our desire is to run Camps where it is safe to do so, whilst recognising the ongoing impact of COVID-19. You can find out more about the latest dates on our Camps page - and you can also sign up for latest updates as things change and develop: