Baptist youth groups were the largest represented denomination at the State Youth Games this year as Warragul’s Lardner Park came alive for the enthusiastic but light-hearted competition on June 9-12.
The much-anticipated event is run by Churches of Christ each year with competitions in a substantial number of sports such as AFL, basketball, soccer, netball, table tennis, European handball, bocce and ultimate frisbee.
New Community Ringwood’s Youth Coordinator, Alex Capp, said the Games provided an opportunity for young people to get together and enjoy interacting with like-minded youths from around the state.
“For New Community it’s always a highlight. It’s something the youth and leaders are always keen and pumped for during the year. Some things they enjoyed most were creating tighter relationships, closer connections, and a sense that they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Our hope and prayer was that eyes would be opened to faith and to Jesus if it’s their first time experiencing that, or otherwise continuing to have something stirred up in them, which might result from chats with leaders or listening to speakers over the weekend or interactions that they had.
“Coming back after the second year after lockdowns and covid, it was an event that really solidified community amongst our youth. It’s a great spot for providing memories and stories for each individual camper to look back on. I hope that helps them to stay connected and be involved in youth.”
New Community Youth brought a group of 80 teens, young adults and leaders along this year. They celebrated winning the Netball A Grade Mixed event for the second time in a row, while a Year 7 boy won the Table Tennis Under-18s event. The group also came runners up in ultimate frisbee and indoor soccer.
Alex and his fellow leaders had fun planning group initiatives this year with their “Pegs of Encouragement”, and intentionally sharing refreshments with other teams.
“We tried to think of different things we could get up to, which could increase involvement from everyone and inspire encouragement with other youth and interacting with one another. So we tried to bring a bunch of oranges and take them out to sports, just like half time at the footy. We also brought a whole heap of pegs and wrote words or bible verses on them as an encouragement, and the youth and leaders were able to secretly peg them onto people as they went out to their different sports, to discover later. It was a bit of a game, and the youth had a lot of fun with it!”
The weather treated the campers kindly with far less rain than in years past.
“This year we threw out the old tents and we went out and bought a bunch of new tents, and then didn’t get a drop of rain!” Alex said. “But I think the youth definitely enjoyed not being wet and cold at night.”
“Rise” was the theme of the Games this year, focusing on facing adversity with God’s love and support.