VIC Youth Camp

In early January this year, I had the privilege of accompanying Laura to speak at a youth camp in Howqua, a beautiful area in the alpine region of Victoria. The three-hour drive felt like 30 minutes; we cranked the tunes, scouted out some stellar coffee and chatted our little hearts out. Laura, thanks for being the best road trip buddy!

 Brekky with a view   

Brekky with a view

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Driving through the Yarra Ranges, one of my favourite places in Australia!

The ‘Gap Camp’ was run by VicYouth Australia. Over forty young adults from 16-18 years old had gathered from around Victoria to spend a week learning, growing, and supporting and empowering each other. 

There were two separate sessions throughout the day. In the first, Laura shared her powerful story and experience as a young woman grappling with issues such as alcohol and drugs, body image, self-worth and the pressure she felt to be and act a certian way. From the moment she started speaking, Laura’s vulnerability and passion grabbed the attention of every person in the room.

She went on to unpack topics such as relationships, objectification of women and the harms of pornography to young people. In my experience, the stigma surrounding the topic of pornography prevents any opportunity of having candid, constructive conversation about it. It was amazing to see such a positive, earnest response as Laura broke the ice and addressed the issue with such openness and wisdom.

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Room full of world changers

Laura and I enjoyed spending time getting to know the leaders and youth over lunch between sessions. We had some fantastic conversations and I was deeply inspired by the leadership team’s ability to challenge and motivate youth in such an approachable, relational way. 

The second session was a Q&A time with Laura, myself and two other youth leaders on the front panel. Everyone was given the opportunity to write up any questions and topics they wanted to discuss. The anonymous nature of the questions opened up a space for the youth to be totally open about any thoughts that were sparked after Laura’s first talk. Questions such as “What is the right way to get a boy’s attention?, “How do I balance being relevant with standing up for what is right and not compromising?” and “How can I overcome my pornography addiction?” were raised and opened up some really wonderful, productive conversations. I watched the room come alive as rarely discussed issues were brought into the light. Bringing truth into tricky topics produced such a freedom for the group as they recognized their potential to create a powerful, positive shift in the culture around them. What a day!

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