For the last seven and a half years, I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the PlanetBoom Team. PlanetBoom is the youth ministry of Planetshakers Church and the team is comprised of some of the most incredible, talented, generous young people I have ever met. Each week, we impact and influence the lives of hundreds and thousands of teenagers to see the grow into the champions they were meant to be. There are plenty of youth teams doing great things around the country but I have always loved the passion and the heart of this one.
Every year we have a camp over the summer and usually see around 500 teenagers coming together from all over Melbourne. The campsite we normally use couldn’t handle much more than that though so, to give some room for growth, the team attempted our first city camp and BCXV – Next Generation was born. Planetshakers Church’s city campus had recently (as in the week prior) moved into it’s new building, after eleven years of searching and waiting. Boom Camp therefore became the first major event held in the new premises. With strict instructions to not break anything (!) we bussed over 700 teenagers and leaders in for church on the Sunday afternoon and remained there for the next three days.
PlanetBoom pulls no punches when it comes to bringing teenagers into encounters with God and we run several services a day complete with praise and worship, messages and ministry time. This year, we had Ps Jeremy Johnson as a guest speaker. Ps Jeremy is the campus pastor for the Planetshakers Church campus in Los Angeles, also known as Fearless LA. He’d spoken at our camp before and I was really excited to hear him again and see what object lessons he had planned for us. I’ve always thought the object lessons were a (great) side-effect of having Glen Berteau as a mentor. The most elaborate object lessons I’ve ever seen have been during Ps Glen’s messages. (Side note: he spoke at the official building opening a few weeks later and brought a full scale throne onto the stage to illustrate a concept about crowns) One message involved every person getting a puzzle piece to hold onto to remind them that although their little piece didn’t seem to make much sense on it’s own, they were a part of a something greater. Not only did their piece make more sense in the bigger picture, it was a vital piece for the puzzle to be completed. He reminded them that God came to make dead people live and that we found who we really were when we come into relationship with God. Ps Andy Harrison also shared that God knows who we will be and is clothing us in things that don’t necessarily ‘fit’ now because we’ll grow into them.
Planetshakers have always been known for their praise and worship. The music that comes out of this house already reaches people around the world. PlanetBoom is coming to its own in this area, developing a sound of their own. In a nut shell, I’d say we like a good praise party; remixing some of the tracks you would hear on our albums and writing some of our own. We take the call to praise God with all of our strength quite literally and doesn’t take long for someone to attach some dance moves to a song – the Nae Nae/Brand New Day breakdown comes to mind. If our young people know how to praise hard, they also know how to connect with God in worship. One of the benefits of a camp setting is you’ve got all day – if we need to linger in the presence of God for a while, we can! It’s incredible what can happen when you give Holy Spirit room to move.
I often marvel at the ability of our young people to jump between fun and focused. As much as we have incredible moments in our meetings, we also had visits from the “Dare Angel” who had people licking the stage and putting other people’s socks in their mouths because no one was allowed to refuse the Dare Angel. The full days spent at camp were broken up by the annual Boom Wars event and one of our famous Boom Beach Parties.
A Boom Beach Party is barely-organised chaos which involves various beach sports, food and DJs and lots of dumping people into the surf. My crew managed to find a spot on the edge with minimal chance of being hit by a soccer ball or a frisbee and enjoyed the sunshine. I did lend my camera to some of the girls and got it back with significantly less space on the memory card. We ended the afternoon with the Dare Angel daring himself to win a swimming race to the buoy and back and some all in beach sprints amongst the male Boom team members. Our lifeguards also busied themselves trying to rescue a boat that managed to get stuck on a sand bar near the beach. They still hadn’t got it off by the time we had to leave.
The other afternoon was spent participating in Boom Wars. Each Boom Camp, our smaller Urban Life groups are joined up into teams and team pride is demonstrated by lots of costumes and chants. Usually, these teams were based on our geographic regions but for the first time this year we had the Boom Wars Draft where Urban Life groups were “drafted” into our all new teams: Elephunk, Jungle Havok, Mavericks and Tsunami. My group was part of the Jungle Havok (#thehavokisreal) so we spent hours designing and creating jungle outfits for the event. I think we ended up with something Katy Perry inspired (you can thank my teenage girls for that). Various challenges are set for participants to try and win points for their team and by the time we got to the “chant” section of the proceedings, Tsunami was on top. Then came our mini theatre production. They were supposed to be simple chants but many years ago, driven by the need to outdo the other teams, these have become more and more elaborate song and dance numbers. Ours had a storyline involving a mission trip to Africa and a dance-off between the missionaries and the locals. Elephunk had commandeered the hook of Uptown Funk for their own purposes. Mavericks had a particularly creepy routine involving “Anonymous” masks and Tsunami had flags. Needless to say, by the end, Jungle Havok came out on top and took home the trophy.
So those were the highlights of Boom Camp 2015. As always, we set out to build relationships between young people and God and each other. True, we came out of the week with very little sleep (it is very difficult to get hundreds of teenagers to sleep at the same time) but everyone had an incredible time and there was plenty of time to recuperate before we had to go back to school. I love being a part of this movement!