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Church youth groups stay at camps for Carnival
Non-roman catholic christian parishioners—many of whom may not have had the option to “try out” for a traditional mas band—have opted for Evangelical retreat camps this Carnival weekend. They eagerly await the privilege to either board a bus at a nearby station, line up for the ferry at the port terminal in Port-of-Spain, or stand in queue at the airport for that seemingly overbooked Tobago Express flight. Church youth group organisers throughout the country seemed bent on adequately occupying the time of those citizens who are not so inclined to the festivities of the season.
“The period presents itself with a unique opportunity to get the youths of the church together in order to provide them with spiritual encouragement, and to guide those individuals who may be enticed to engage themselves elsewhere,” youth leader of the church of Christ congregation in San Fernando (going to Tobago) Adrian Ayers said. Nowhere near the price range proposed by some of those exclusive mas bands and Carnival fetes, church camps can go from as little as $20 to $600, with subsidies (in as much as $125 per camper) and sponsorships from within the congregation, which facilitate in reducing costs even further.
Youth director of the Scarborough New Testament Church of God, Sherron Clarke, revealed that his church bore true to the latter part of this claim. “We have not charged a fee really, it’s more like a $20 contribution that covers the four days, since meals and concession stands have all been donated.” Though expense was not a major factor to consider here, given the need to reflect and pay homage to God in a season which flows directly into the Lenten (Easter) period, the all-inclusive benefits of those free in-house meals and cafeterias, will in no way be short in these camping expeditions. And it must not go unnoticed.
The youths await activities ranging from Bible discussions and devotions, evening of songs, hikes, talent shows, educational excursions, games and the much anticipated sports day. Those young at heart, too, on the trip, are ensured that they too have their day in the sun. Debra-Joy Baboolal of the Flaming Word Ministry in Chaguanas said they had organised a packed schedule at the church building, specifically geared to re-directing the focus of the youth. “We have a cooler-lime event (gospelypso) planned for Friday...a youth fest on Saturday that will feature the premier of a film produced by our young people...a comedy segment on Sunday, and thanksgiving on Monday,” Baboolal added.
Meanwhile, in what may be regarded a strange twist to most, there is also the likelihood that people will choose to be excused from either of the camps—be it church or mas—in exchange for staying home. Or chances are, they’ll be somewhere, far away, kicking it with family and friends (once work permits), hoping and praying of course that they’ll make good company.
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