Dare 2B Different is a unique camp for boys and girls in years 7-12 with or without a disability. Warm and inclusive, Dare 2B Different creates a space for young people like Spencer Cotie to participate in experiences that might otherwise be inaccessible. Spencer is an incredible, mature young man seeking to be transformed more and more into the character of God and with a fervent heart for all to know the rich love of God.
He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; he gently leads those that have young.Isaiah 40:11
Spencer, 20, often struggled to fit in with his peers at high school. He has cerebral palsy, and is unable to walk or speak – he communicates through typing on a computer.
But every year throughout high school, Spencer attended the SU camp ‘Dare 2B Different’, a camp for teens with and without disabilities. And it was on this camp that Spencer found the love and care he hadn’t found at school.
During a speech Spencer prepared for the tenth anniversary of Dare 2B Different this past summer, he shared, “I just finished my HSC at a mainstream public high school in Sydney where I always found it difficult to interact face to face with my peers because of how slow I type.”
“However on this camp, the students have looked beyond my disability and are keen to get to know me, even volunteering to help me at meal times. The leaders have also gone out of their way to guarantee that I have the opportunity to participate in all the activities, for example carrying me up the ladder to the flying fox and having the patience to wait for me to type during discussion groups.”
I knew right then that this was a camp of loving Christians who do not walk away from a challenge.Spencer Cotie, Dare 2B Different Camper
For Spencer, the love he received from the campers and leaders made a profound impact, demonstrating to him the character of God and enabling him to grow in his faith. Spencer says, “I would like to thank all the leaders, especially Ai Lyn Saunders and Lynne Verghese, who go above and beyond to ensure that every camper, regardless of ability, can participate and learn more about our God.”
Lynne Verghese says, “Dare 2B Different exists to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to teenagers of all abilities. I have volunteered at this camp for nine years now because I am passionate about seeing young people, regardless of their ability, engage with the gospel amongst an inclusive community shaped by Christ.”
Some young people like Spencer would miss out on the great opportunity of camp due to the challenge of a disability. But at Dare 2B Different, Spencer never had to miss out. He tells a beautiful story from his first camp:
“Our first activity was the giant swing but the path to the swing was littered with rocks and tree stumps. I thought I would not be able to even see my friends swing, let alone do it myself, but a group of leaders were insistent! So we drove my chair as far as it would go and then they helped me walk the rest of the way. I knew right then that this was a camp of loving Christians who do not walk away from a challenge.”
The leaders on Dare 2B Different were willing to go above and beyond to ensure that Spencer didn’t miss out on any activities – and it’s this passion to do whatever is needed to show and share the love of God that is at the heart of all that Scripture Union does. We do not walk away from a challenge when the Gospel needs to be shared!
Wherever it’s needed
In fact, with your support we create many unique spaces for ministry to happen (like Dare 2B Different camp) where it may not otherwise take place. Across metropolitan and regional NSW, thousands of people are reached each year through Scripture Union ministries, and young people are equipped to share their faith with others.
Perhaps the best-known SU ministry, our summer missions exemplify this drive to do whatever it takes to shine the light of the Gospel wherever it is needed, and to create space for ministry in a unique context. Each year, volunteers give up their summer holidays to run engaging mission programs in places where people go on holidays. Over the past summer SUFM and Summerlife missions reached over 15,000 people, with 1,500 volunteers passionately sharing the Good News about Jesus!
During term time, SU is active in public schools across NSW, facilitating SUPA clubs for primary students and ISCF groups for secondary students. Ministry in state schools can be difficult, but this is a precious opportunity, and one that enables young people to explore faith in the school context and witness to their friends.
In the school holidays, our exciting camps take students out of their everyday contexts and into places where they can make friends, grow in confidence, and be immersed in the Gospel all day, every day. Our camps are unique for making the most of opportunities to reach kids who might not otherwise go on camp – such as camps in rural areas and camps like Dare 2B Different.
Through your support, all of this is possible – and it makes a truly wonderful impact. Under God, people are coming to faith and growing in their confidence to share Jesus with others.
But there is more still to do. There are parts of NSW that we would love to be in, where currently there is a limited SU presence. You can read more about this on the next page. Spencer says, “I have enjoyed every moment of camp and I hope that it continues to grow so more people can learn the word of God.” This is our hope too – that all SU ministries will continue to grow so that more people can understand the good news of Jesus! Thank you for your partnership.
Spencer’s story is a testament to the extraordinary communities and spaces SU volunteers, under God, help create across all SU ministries.
Watch Spencer’s story:
Help more people hear the gospel, whatever it takes. Visit sunsw.org.au/donate and give to our tax-deductible schools ministry fund.