January 2nd, a week after arriving in Cape Town, we found ourselves at the airport again (newly renovated, by the way, to accommodate for the FIFA World Cup!). This time, we were heading to Johannesburg for Youth Week and Team Training. The band who would be doing worship at the youth camp was taking the same flight as us. We got to meet all of them and we FINALLY met Rolf, YfC SA National Director, his wife Lizzie and their kids, Kyle, Tenille and Mkhail. The two and a half hour flight on Mango airline was over quickly enough, and Vivian from the Youth for Christ Training Centre was there to pick everyone up. We filled two vans, about thirty people. Michael and Stan mostly talked with Emilio on the way to the YfC camp. He is the Cape Town director of YfC with his wife Claudine. They invited us to their home for supper the first day we met them! It won’t be until March when training is over.

Youth Week started on January 3rd, but almost 600 kids were already there the night before! Our group from Cape Town got there in time for dinner and the dining rooms were packed with people. This camp is not only for South Africans, but kids from all over southern Africa. There were people from Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and even from Germany and Netherlands. In total, there were about 900 campers. There was another group from America of 25 adults who were counselors for the week. Michael helped a couple of them with their Acting and Film class, and the kids had a blast. They did hilarious improv and wrote their own movies to be filmed the next day in class. Michael didn’t make it to the second class, however. He got a nasty stomach ache with cramping and a fever, and ended up going to the doctor. The verdict was that the change from succulent steak braais every night to mass produced camp food caused a war in his intestines. He got three prescription medications to take for about a week. The doctor visit and prescriptions cost 570 Rand, which converts to just over $75 U.S. Not a bad deal. And he felt better in three days. Michael said he was glad it was him and not me feeling so sick. How sweet!
Each night of camp we all attended a worship service. The band we flew up with led the songs and each night there was a different speaker. An American pastor named Rob Mallan was the main guest but Rolf spoke one night as well.

The theme of this year’s Youth Week was The Ultimate Goal, so the sermons encouraged the students to set an ultimate goal and making steps to achieving it. One of the main topics for the speakers was absent or inattentive parents. They talked about forgiving your parents and many of the kids made that their Ultimate Goal. On the last night of camp, students were allowed to go on stage and give testimonies to the congregation. Many kids had either forgiven their dad for leaving them or made a goal to contact their father. It was heartwarming to see kids making decisions that will keep them from holding grudges that will only hurt themselves, especially if they don’t even know the person they are angry with.

During the day, all the kids were involved in sports teams. They played soccer, netball and football among other games. The teams were decided by what region of the country you came from; inlands, coastals, cities and outside SA. Each group, made up of hundreds of kids, came up with a name, wrote a war cry and created a dance to perform in front of everyone else.
Coastal Chaos - coastals
The names and cheers and war cries were judged and given points going toward a total at the end of the week.
Exodus for Christ - inlands
All were judged on participation, excitement and creativity.
Urban Giants - cities
Each team painted a banner with their name.
Southern Salad - southern Africa
I was told by a friend who visited SA for a soccer camp that the kids here are so excited to participate in sports and group activities. This performance from all the teams definitely proved that for me. Everyone shouted their loudest and danced their hardest. It was so much fun to watch. By the end of Youth Week, Urban Giants had the most points.

This week wasn’t all about sports and competitions. The evening services focused on young people and their relationship with their fathers. YfC SA as an organization is returning it’s focus to family. We believe that the Lord can stop the tragic cycle of fatherless families. The leaders interviewed several of the Youth Weekers asking about their relationships with their fathers, and most of them had only negative things to say. I believe that forgiving their fathers, even if they don’t know him, will free them from anger and allow them to love more. The services led to many of the students either making a choice to work on forgiving their father, or forgiving altogether. There were about 50 young people who stood on the stage the last night of Youth Week and told the crowd that they decided to forgive their fathers. It was heartwarming to know that these people were really going home changed, and their lives will be different this year.

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