One thing I have discovered over the last 5 years being in YWAM is that each centre has its own unique flavour. I love YWAM Newcastle, and I am thankful for the unique things that make it YWAM Newcastle :)
Here are 5 Unique Things about YWAM Newie!
I had my 23rd birthday a month into my DTS, and I quickly realised that this is one of the most fun places to have a birthday. Not only do you have an entire army of people ready to say “Happy Birthday” and give you a hug, but there are intentional opportunities built in to make you feel special and loved on.
One particular activity built in for everyone’s birthday is a birthday table at dinner. We already have an incredible family-style dinner culture, and when your rock up on your birthday, one of the tables is all decked out for YOU! It can have any number of things on it to make it stand out, but it’s definitely for something special.
During dinner announcements everyone sings ‘Happy Birthday’ and then, generally, your leader will give a speech about you. After they affirm you like crazy, then you also have an opportunity to say something. Once all the speeches are done, it’s time to dig into a special cake or dessert for you and those sitting around you.
I really love this about our centre – that we really honour people during their birthdays. It’s so fun!
2. Working Bees
Every quarter before new students arrive, we always have a Working Bee. We have them other times in the year as well, particularly if we have a building team visiting or a big event coming up.
It may sound weird to mention working bees, but honestly, I really love this about YWAM Newie. We don’t assume it’s one person’s job or role to cleanup – we all come together and work together. We all have ownership over our facilities and take pride in making them look wonderful for people that come and visit. It’s usually a bit of fun as well!
3. Youth Street
Youth Street is a ministry that was started at YWAM Newcastle in 2004, and although other YWAM centres run Youth Street as well, it is unique to us for the pioneering aspect of it. We also run a second level school called the School of Innovative Youth Ministry.
Youth Street has a department of staff that work with youth throughout the week, going into high schools and doing lunch time programs and such. Then there is the Saturday program that includes more staff throughout the base, as well as the full time department. We invite young people from all over the city to come to our warehouse and join one of a number of teams. They go with these teams during the afternoon to do activities like surfing, skating, dance, etc. Then they come back and have dinner with us, and starting next week again, we’ll have a night program as well.
I was a part of Youth Street for the first few years I was here, and I absolutely loved it. I loved being able to see the crew grow and develop and gain confidence. I loved seeing them step out. I love that I still get to see them each week because our warehouse is nearly synonymous with “young people”.
4. Base Retreat
Every year the entire base gets together for “Base Retreat” – a three day camping trip! It’s a blast every year, even for this not-so-camper-ish girl ;)
For the past three years, we have gone to a place about 45 minutes away that has heaps of land with a creek along the back. We typically have a speaker for the three days, and generally speaking, this trip happens when the July and October quarters are transitioning, which means TONS of people. I absolutely love base retreat!
Another fun and unique thing about YWAM Newcastle is Christmas. Not the holiday in and of itself obviously, but the way we do it is so unique and fun that it’s totally YWAM Newcastle!
We are all given teams and roles over the weekend to make it all come together. For the past two years, I have been “Dasher” – emcee of the weekend! Jess was my partner in crime two years ago – “Dancer” – and last year, the lovely Kelcie joined me. We also have heaps of packages arriving from all over the world!
During the weekend there are about 100 stockings lining the stairs, we go to church all together on Christmas morning, followed by morning tea and secret santa, heaps of games in the afternoon, a BIG Christmas dinner and a hilarious talent show! Then, on Boxing Day (Dec 26), we all go to the beach together for the whole day and have a big BBQ. It’s so fun and inclusive and exciting!
So there are some wonderful and unique things about YWAM Newcastle. There are so many more, but it’s fun to think about the special things that make a place what it is!