The Life Behind School Camping Reflections from intern-turned-fieldworker John Francis

School Camping has seen an incredible time of growth and abundance with a tripling of ministry over the last three years. This outstanding flourishing follows sowing of energy, prayer and effort into the field. One of the tremendous success stories out of this time of plenty is the personal and leadership growth of our young interns-turned-fieldworkers.

John Francis, one of those experiencing this fast transition and development, shared some of his story with us.

“My faith has grown incredibly since starting as an intern, almost straight out of high school. Before I was an intern, I didn’t have much of a faith or purpose – then I joined SU and was given a lot of responsibility. It was unexpected, but through that, God has grown my confidence in Him.”

“Going from a space of just looking after myself to being responsible for looking after 80 kids on a camp was huge. My faith has grown incredibly, seeing God work on camp.”

John explains some inspiring insights into the background of the growth in School Camping ministry. “We have built up a relationship with the teachers, that now they say ‘We trust you with the children in our care”. After some powerful moments on camp, John says “Talking to a teacher long after camp he said a lot of the students had started to pursue a faith at school, started bible studies. Even those who hadn’t made a complete commitment had had a change in attitude toward other students and school in general.”

It is lasting impacts like these, instigated by God and shared in the work of our interns, field workers and volunteers, that has meant such resounding successes in recent times for School Camping.

The demand for School Camping has been high, meaning our new field workers like John can be away for 8 weeks at a time. John maintains the health of his own relationships and his relationship with God through considered structures. “When I return from back-to-back programs, I have a big catch up session with my family. It’s important just to heavily invest in spending time with them. On camp, we have focussed time for God, and I’ve started to model my life to be more like camps than the other way around. God has shown me [through camps] how He’s designed life to be.”

“I’m still figuring it out, but after camp I’ll get home Friday, have a Saturday of resting, where I get up whenever, don’t do anything, then leave for camp again Sunday. Physically camp is tiring, being hyper-aware all day… but spiritually I get charged.”

As we minister through SU, we all bring our life experiences with us, and God uses this to shape our impact. John graciously shared his personal story to explain how life’s experiences can help mould our leaders, and in turn, change the lives of young people.

“One thing I found really helpful is my own experience at home. My dad struggles with mental illness, and I’ve learned a lot of patience through living with him.”

“Having to walk students through situations and activities, I can link to experiences at home, especially when kids with mental health issues come on camp. When other leaders really don’t know how to handle a particular situation with a student, I can go ‘Don’t worry, you can focus on the other 42 students on camp!’ and I’m able to spend time with this one. Going on camps and having to be really attentive to the students I’ve found a bit easier than coming straight from a life of ‘I’m just looking after myself.’”

We are so thankful for John and our other young fieldworkers who are pouring their time and hearts into this ministry and we praise God for the momentum and development.