Combined ISCF camps exemplify collaboration, mission-heart, sacrifice and resourcefulness. SU Regional Worker, Meghann McCloud, asked ISCF Director Samara Mikheal what motivates her to run a combined ISCF camp, and how she’s seen Gospel fruit blossom in this incredible space. Here’s what she had to say:
Meghann: Who are you?
Samara: I’m Samara Mikheal, I live in Wollongong and work at Smiths Hill High School as a scripture teacher and I also run the ISCF group there.
Meghann: What is your involvement with SU?
Samara: Yep, so I run an ISCF group at Smiths Hill, it’s called FISH, Fellowship in Smiths Hill, once a week, and also I’ve been on the SU Schoolies Vanuatu mission trip as a leader, twice and maybe going this year again. And also been on a number of SU Beach Missions; Woolgolga SUFM and Byron Bay SUFM.
Meghann: What is a combined ISCF?
Samara: All teachers from all different High Schools with ISCF groups get together and plan a camp and try and get as many students involved from the group to come along and also invite their friends that come that don’t go to the group as well, so everyone is invited, anyone from the school from year 7 to 12. We get together and it’s kind of like a youth group camp in that we have activities and games and talks. Normally we get a guest speaker in, they give talks on the Bible. We have small groups as well after the talks that the ISCF Directors lead, but also senior students help us lead them. At Smiths Hill we have a good group of senior students who run the ISCF group, which is the ideal, they run a lot of the games on camp and try and help look after the younger kids which is really cool. Yeah, it’s a really good community; we kind of build space, and also a good place to invite their friends and usually those friends end up coming to the ISCF group back at school.
Meghann: How many, schools, students and leaders are involved in this camp?
Samara: This year there were four schools, so there was Illawarra Sports High School, Keira High School, Wollongong High School and Smiths Hill High School. There were 45 kids and 10 leaders. The last two years we’ve had between 43-46 kids, and before that it was just one ISCF group, Smiths Hill, and we were getting about 30 kids to that. So, it’s grown from there and our ISCF group has been really good at including the other school groups.
Meghann: What motivated you to run a combined ISCF camp?
Samara: So, ISCF Director before me was already running this camp, and then I took over and realised it was a great opportunity for the kids to go away together and build community, get to know God more and bring friends along to do all that with them. I’ve continued with it because it’s so valuable. Samara:
Meghann: What do you do on a combined ISCF camp?
Samara: Well, we play LOTS of games, we have a campfire, we run camp activities, like archery or swimming, even though it’s colder in the time we go, the kids love it anyway! We do have a bit of free time where the kids can chill out with each other, playing their own board games or playing sports outside.
Meghann: What transformation in the students do you witness over camp when they engaged with the talks and when they spent time together?
Samara: Through this camp the community is beautiful, like it’s quite different to a normal school camp in that we see kids getting along well, they get alongside one another and encourage each other and look at God’s word together. I think because of that loving community that’s established, it’s a taste of what heaven will be like and the kids respond to that, they love it and they want it to keep going. By then end of the weekend they don’t want the camp to end. A lot of the kids who came on camp were unsure of what it would be like and then didn’t want to leave, because the environment was so loving and kind.
Meghann: What are some of the thing’s students say about your combined ISCF camp?
Samara: Most of the kids say how much fun the camp is! And they love learning about God. They like that it’s casual and a safe place to get to know Jesus and because the camp is year 7 to 12, they get to know kids from other years and schools. The younger ones really look up to the older kids. There was one student who had been on previous school camps where I had also been attending and she found those times hard and she was quite anxious the whole time, so I was prepared for that to occur for this student on this camp. But this student was laughing and content the whole time! She told me that this camp is so different compared to other school camps she’d been on, she just noticed how much love was in the place and felt encouraged by that.
Meghann: How do you think a combined ISCF camp enhances Lunchtime group?
Samara: Well, we talk about lunchtime group during and at the end of camp to raise awareness to the students from the different schools that there is an ISCF group at their school and who the Directors are of those groups. After camp, usually we have more kids come to lunchtime group, they have the chance to continue learning about God and building community on a weekly basis. We hope to then, connect kids to the local churches and their youth groups, we find this encourages the students further in their journey to knowing Jesus.
It also helps train the senior student leaders in facilitating bible studies and games during lunchtime group. The group time especially helps them to practice this and then continue it in lunchtime group back at school.
Meghann: What do you want to say to someone thinking about starting an ISCF group?
Samara: It’s a great idea and definitely do it! Feel free to speak to any ISCF Directors you know who run lunchtime groups to get ideas and advice on how to run a group. It’s a great opportunity for you and your church to witness in your local community about Jesus! And the benefits, including providing Christian community and resources about Jesus for the students who attend, have positive impacts on the kids and their school!
Meghann: What do you want to say to someone already leading an ISCF and thinking about planning a combined ISCF camp?
Samara: It’s so much more effective having all the different schools attend; it helps the kids know that they’re not only ones at their school involved in an ISCF and that there are other students in different schools who are in lunchtime groups. They feel less isolated know this. It’s also really nice leading with the other ISCF Directors, because sometimes you can feel isolated because you’re often the only one in the school leading something like a Christian lunchtime group. To know that there are other Christian leaders in a ministry like this is a great support. We encourage each other and swap ideas on how to run our groups.
Meghann: What would you like prayer/support for?
Samara: Pray that the kids will be bold in inviting their friends along! That kids would come to know Jesus and that we can continue to be a loving, encouraging environment within the school that brings the light and life of Jesus into that community.
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