In the beginning, Youth Adventures was a trip I signed up for because I had major FOMO. All of my friends were going and I was keen to leave frosty Victoria and head up to the beautiful tropics. But it ended up being much more than a trip for me, in fact, after doing 3 Youth Adventures programs I fell in love with it and its vision of seeking to empower youth and ignite a passion for missions.
What is YA? Youth Adventures is a 10-day program where High School students join us on the YWAM Townsville Campus for lectures and then we go off on a short-term outreach. The lecture phase entails workshops on topics like identity, setting foundations and identifying where our beliefs come from; these lectures surround the sessions with the main speaker- on mine, it was always the legend – Lloyd Lindee. The main speaker works with a Discipleship Training School (DTS) team that focuses on impacting youth. Therefore, the speaker and a DTS team lead the YA program for high school students. It’s so dynamic!
Through airport pick-ups, messy games and late-night chats you grow incredibly close to your DTS leaders and your friends that come along on this journey. When I first walked on campus in 2015, I had no idea what YWAM was, let alone YA (youth adventures). In spite of this, I felt as if I was home. I felt that I could totally be myself; in fact, I feel through the multiple times I’ve spent in the fun & caring YWAM family I was able to uncover the best version of myself. The smiling DTS team welcomed us at the door with arms and hearts wide open ready to receive and nurture us. Not only were they welcoming, but all YWAM staff and students really valued our friendships, not a superficial task to be looked after. We really became one big team.
The second half of YA is the outreach phase, usually spent on Palm Island, a beautiful indigenous community 2 hours boat ride from Townsville. Every time I visit I fall more in love with the beautiful waters, the culture and most importantly, the people I get to see again. I grew close to many of the kids and elderly on Palm and it’s humbling knowing that year after year, even without reunion for a while, they remember us and welcome us into their community, homes and hearts as if no time had gone by.
It’s funny – I was actually just reflecting on all my YA experiences over the years and I feel like everything I learnt is both priceless and so unique. I have learnt so much about who I truly am, as through the years I have found the comfort and empowerment knowing the opinions of the world are insignificant as I’m a masterpiece that God has carefully crafted together. During my time I was also built up as a leader; even when I was much younger than I am now, leaders listened to my ideas and encouraged me in my strengths that I didn’t even know I had within me. This was especially nurtured during my time staffing the YA program while on my DTS! The experiences I’ve had with YA previously was valuable within my team and I had the room to really step out into my capabilities as a leader which was super cool. I took what I’d learned on YA as a student and applied them as a leader of the program. It really came full circle! Leading YA definitely gave me a newfound appreciation for my leaders because the amount of effort, hours and prayer that goes into organising the program is insane, but I loved every minute of organising it. The team is like one big puzzle and we all put our little projects together to piece this life-changing experience together.
There are so many special memories that I cherish from Youth Adventures – one especially stands out me. As a team, we had the incredible opportunity to help out with Stable on the Strand- a Christmas festival in Townsville. We had rushed from the Ferry from Palm Island straight to the festival and hopped into our christmas costumes. Later that night, my best friend and I had the honour of performing on stage with Australian Christian singer, Colin Buchanan in front of hundreds of people. This was a hilarious and extremely memorable moment for me. But in all seriousness… the relationships formed on these YA proframs are the highlights, especially now as I’ve returned to Townsville for my DTS I’ve been reunited with leaders of mine and I’m back home on this campus. I always loved it. It is an environment like nothing I’ve ever experienced before- I’ve truly found family here.
Lucy did her DTS April 2019! She is from Victoria, Australia. She is very passionate about empowering Australian youth as well as getting to know people on a deeper level. Lucy loves going to the op shops, collecting records and having a good laugh with some friends. Oh, and sushi burritos.