For many young Australians, their childhood is filled with memories of family trips to the beach, weekend sports, movie nights and special celebrations.
But Jake’s life was far from this “Australian dream.”
His dad took his own life, and for many years his mum was in and out of prison until she too passed away earlier this year, leaving Jake alone – in the care of his grandmother.
Thankfully, Jake’s story doesn’t end there. Earlier this year he was invited to join SU’s Let’s Be Real camp, and the impact was big.
Let’s Be Real Camp Director and school chaplain, Howard, says the camp gives at-risk young men an opportunity to know they are loved, and can achieve more than they could imagine.
While the days are filled with action-packed adventures and challenges, campers regroup each day around the campfire to hear testimonies from camp leaders.
“It’s not a formal bible study, but it’s real-life stories from guys the campers can look up to, who’ve experienced first-hand the difference God has made in their lives,” says Howard.
The camp’s theme is based on the ANZACs, where the boys completed a Templeton’s Crossing simulation from the infamous Kokoda Track.
At different sections of the trail, the leaders changed the scenario. There were times the boys had to move silently to avoid ‘enemy detection’.
At other times they would need to pass a stretcher with a ‘wounded mate’ in the form of a dummy, to another group, all while ensuring they didn’t drop their mate.
“We had six boys assigned to carry the stretcher through some hilly terrain. We turned on some hoses at one point to simulate rain, and the path became muddy and slippery,” says Howard.
“As the challenges continued, some boys wanted to give up, but their camp-mates got around and encouraged them to keep going, giving them the lift they needed.”
As a young man who has shouldered more than any young person should at his age, Jake’s grandmother says camp was the highlight of his year.
“He just loved it. He has set himself the challenge to try and be more social and talk to others,” she says.
Next year, Jake is looking forward to returning as a junior leader.
Thank you for understanding that each child and young person matters deeply to God. You are helping young men like Jake and his campmates discover life.
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