Camping out at the aged-care home

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“By sharing in Communion together, everyone gained a new and deeper understanding of what it means to say, ‘We are the Body of Christ, for we all share in the one bread’,” says Director of Youth, Children’s and Families Ministry Jonathan Kemp on the recent Senior Ichthus Camp visit to a retirement village

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Bringing the different generations of the Church together is always a good idea, and often produces wonderful and surprising results. This was demonstrated recently during the visit of Year 10-12 Senior Ichthus campers at a retirement village at the picturesque Alexandra Headlands on the Sunshine Coast.

The annual Senior Ichthus Camp always includes a social justice or community engagement component as part of the program, and this year the campers and leaders participated in the regular worship of the 25 residents, who were eager to meet with so many young people. The Rev’d Tania Eichler from Maroochydore presided at the Tantula Rise Retirement Village service, where she regularly visits to minister, assisted by a group of dedicated volunteer parishioners.

During morning tea, some of the Ichthus team continued to play and sing, but according to regular helper Doris Crerar, it was the willingness of the young people to meet and talk with individual residents which made the visit so memorable.

“Even our lovely Jean, who is 102, had a long and animated conversation with the group around her and she loved it,” Doris said.

“It is just so rare to have an occasion when residents can be part of an activity on an individual basis, and to speak with young people around here is really quite unusual.”

The Ichthus campers were able to bring a kind of pastoral care to the retirement home residents, and the residents were able to tell stories in the magical way that only our older community members can.

Retirement Home Lifestyle Coordinator Julie Howard agreed that the residents loved engaging with the youth.

“Some of the residents said they couldn’t remember the last time they had spoken to a young person,” Julie said.

“They were asking them what else they were doing on camp, and the kids were asking the residents about their hobbies and how long they had been at the home.”

It really was a win-win opportunity, with both the young ones and the retirees making the most of their time together.

First-time Ichthus camper Deborah says she was amazed when they arrived at the retirement home.

“I thought we would just be doing Bible study and going to the beach – I didn’t know I’d be meeting a lady who was over a hundred years old!” Deborah said.

“It was so good to meet everyone and make new friends.”

By sharing in Communion together, everyone gained a new and deeper understanding of what it means to say, “We are the Body of Christ, for we all share in the one bread.”

The visit was so mutually rewarding, that we’re already planning to come back next year.

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