by Tom Kitson
Where does God want me to go? What should I do with my gifts and abilities? How can my work reflect God’s love coming to life in the world? These and many other questions surface when Christian young adults begin to make their life decisions.
Since Warrambui Retreat and Conference Centre in New South Wales began its yearlong camp internship program, God’s love really has come to life for more than 100 interns through service, spiritual growth and personal development.
Following Warrambui’s lead, Tandara Lutheran Camp in the Grampians, western Victoria, this year offered a similar program.
Tandara camp manager Darren Linke and his wife Kerry are seeing the benefits, not only in the running of the campsite but also in the personal learning and growth of their first three interns.
Beginning their internship early this year, Victorians Shinae Colville (Hopetoun) and Nadia Bunge (Portland), and South Australian Tiarna Hahn (Adelaide) are now well settled into life as camp staff members.
The girls are expected to clean, cook, maintain the campsite, contribute to the camper experience and assist wherever they are needed.
But key to the overall experience is study and the opportunity to devote time towards spiritual growth and figuring out God’s purpose for their lives.
‘It’s a year of learning and getting to know God’, Darren says. ‘On top of their camp duties, we put interns through a Certificate IV in Christian Theology through Australian Lutheran College, as well as a Certificate III in Outdoor Education. Interns at Tandara are paid on a traineeship basis, much like in any first year apprenticeship, and have one day per week to dedicate fully to study. ‘The program doesn’t just help us; it helps to build young leaders for the church.’
On completion of their year of study and practical experience at Tandara, the interns will be able to apply to the LCA Board for Lay Ministry for accreditation as lay workers.
Darren believes that often young people sign up for internships because they don’t have a specific direction in mind for life after school, and they use this year to make decisions for their future. ‘
When I interviewed one of our interns, she was saying she wanted to go to university the following year’, he says. ‘She’s now completely changed her mind, having decided the study thing isn’t right for her, thanks to this experience.’ This sense of clarity and conviction is an ideal outcome, with participants gaining life experience through service and being given time to focus on God’s voice in their lives.
Meeting once a day for a staff devotion based loosely on the Grow Ministries ‘Faith Five’ is one key avenue for spiritual awareness and growth, Darren says, and interns experience the benefits.