The Uniting Church is a proudly multicultural church with congregations made up of people from many different cultures and ways of life. This year was the first year a contingent of youth from the Samoan Uniting Church Faith Community attended Kids’ Camp Out (KCO).
Speaking with their youth co-ordinator, Hanamoa Vaitogi, it was clear that the young people of he Samoan Faith Community are an active and eager group. The Youth Group often performs cultural dance and songs together for community and church events, with the younger kids joining the young adults for performance and fellowship.
Hanamoa explained that the youth and young adults of the community usually spend time together as a large group.
“Nearly every week they do sports in the park or I’ll book a hall and they’ll perform together,” she said.
While it was an unusual experience for the youth to strike out on their own, Hanamoa said they really enjoyed it.
“They knew what was happening at what times, so they’d ask me what time it was and say ‘We have to go here for this thing now.’ They were really into the timing of it.”
The Samoan contingent at KCO was primarily made of high school students who participated as junior leaders, organising activities and helping out where they could. Hanamoa said that this was in line with the priorities of their community.
“Our main aim with our youth is that we really want them to be the future leaders here,” she said. She explained that KCO was an opportunity for the teenagers in their community to get a feel for helping out and seeing how other congregations and faith communities conduct First Third activities and events.
“The thing they mostly talked about was the last day, the church service and sharing communion,” Hanamoa said.
“Sharing the drinks and the pancakes, they liked the way we all shared and they mixed with the other kids.”
KCO provides the opportunities for congregations to connect and especially for children and teens to meet and mingle and get to know each other across different congregations, cultures and faith groups.
For the Samoan Faith community this is just the first of many KCOs to come. According to Hanamoa, many of the children from their community have already said they are excited to go to KCO next year.