'A lifetime of learning in three days': Women's experience at Empower Adventure Camp
The Salvation Army Blue Mountain Adventure Centre (BMAC) hosted its first-ever Empower Women’s Adventure Camp from 5 to 8 March. Twelve women spent four days in the outdoors, being empowered to challenge their boundaries and discover their capabilities in their journey together. Read on for exciting opportunities to attend future Empower camps and testimonies from women who attended in March!
Twelve women gathered from all around New Zealand to attend the inaugural Empower Women’s Adventure Camp in March. After settling in to The Salvation Army's Blue Mountain Adventure Centre in Raurimu, they proceeded to spend two full days and two half days caving, on high ropes, rock-climbing, white-water rafting, trekking, abseiling and connecting with one another.
The campers also attended devotions, shared stories and undertook adventure-based learning, which helped the women trust each other and grow. The camp empowered the women spiritually, emotionally and physically. Blue Mountain Adventure Centre says that interest in the Empower Adventure Women’s Camp has been so high they will be hosting a third Empower in April 2022. Dates will be confirmed and released shortly!
Rose's empowering vision for women
Empower Women's Adventure Camp was the vision of Rose Keen, a young instructor at The Salvation Army Blue Mountain Adventure Centre. Rose says she would often witness women being ‘first to put themselves last’ and missing out on activities on 'family camps' and other BMAC summits. Rose says she saw an opportunity to challenge and develop women in an all-female environment, with no excuses or fear.
In 2018, Rose partnered with Mission Leader Rosy Keane from Women's Ministries to promote what became Empower Adventure Camp 2019. However, the emergence of COVID and lockdowns meant postponement until the following year.
In 2020, The Salvation Army's Northern Division Women's Ministries came on board, opting to support women from Northern ASARS and Recovery Churches to attend Empower as their Divisional fundraiser. As the Auckland COVID lockdown in March 2020 prevented these delegates from attending, a second sold-out Empower Women’s Adventure Camp has been scheduled from November 12–15 2021, and a third in April 2022.
Stories of empowered women from camp
Following are some of the testimonies of the women who attended Empower Women's Adventure Camp in March. We hope you feel inspired by their courage, vulnerability and growth and decide to try out Empower for yourself!
A shared adventure - Ana
I love adventures, so I was looking forward to sharing this adventure with my daughter, sister and friend. I enjoyed seeing them trying new things and challenging themselves to do better.
The most challenging thing was having to think about what I found difficult. While I know I am capable of doing things, self-doubt is still a huge challenge to overcome. Being around positive-minded people while having fun and trying things out of our comfort zones makes that so much easier to do. The physical side was challenging due to mobility issues, but with the support of our wonderful Blue Mountain Adventure Centre staff and the awesome group, it became possible to do all the activities to the best of my abilities.
I love the laughter and fun we had navigating through the different obstacles that were thrown at us – especially the white water rapids. I enjoyed getting to know new friends who love life and adventure at Empower Women's Adventure Camp. It was a lifetime of learning and memories in three days. We all have our own obstacles in life but with the support of family, new friends and the wonderful BMAC staff - you can do it.
A new way of supportive female friendships - Zo
I was really nervous in the lead-up to Empower Women's Adventure Camp as I don't tend to hang out with other women. I had to challenge my past and my own ideas about what women are like so that I could get to know the amazing women at camp and not be trapped by fears of being hurt by rejection.
I loved hearing everyone's stories and seeing these women from all over try hard things and being so kind, supportive, brave and uplifting. I also loved white water rafting and how the staff at BMAC were super supportive and challenging as well. I learned that God is raising up strong, capable women all over New Zealand to encourage and build each other up. They will be game-changers in faith.
Learning to look after 'me' - Marion
I was looking forward to the fun and adventure of Empower Women's Adventure Camp. The physical aspect was a challenge in places and learning everyone's names. I enjoyed meeting, supporting and encouraging women at camp as well as finding inspiration from them. I learned how to look after 'me' mentally, challenge myself physically and know that I can inspire others too. I have had so many comments from family and friends asking about how I got onto this camp. They loved my Facebook post and all the pictures - and yes, I am still talking about it with different people daily.
Celebrating together with other women - Margaret-Ann
In the lead up to Empower Women's Adventure Camp, I was excited to be going to a 'special to my heart' place. I looked forward to meeting and connecting with other women, and I learned that I have a way to go in connecting to other women for my sake. I most enjoyed being able to stretch and push myself on the high ropes course. It was also the most challenging thing for me and trying to not overdo it healthwise. God spoke to me through one of the Bible readings, so I have taken that away. My favourite photo of me is about 5-6 of us after the abseil, celebrating with the mini-mountain in the background.
Connecting and being inspired by women's faith - Charlotte
I felt excited about getting amongst outdoor activities at Empower Women's Adventure Camp (which I love) but I wasn't so sure about sharing the experience with the group of women as we didn't all know each other. I had a bit of anxiety and uncertainly heading into it. The biggest challenge over the weekend was purposefully taking the time to speak with different women in the group and making connections with each of them because it's always easy to automatically go to those you already know!
What I enjoyed most was not only the range of outdoor and team-building activities but hearing and receiving the shared support and encouragement from the other women. It was incredibly uplifting for me, especially when I was on the high beam. My main takeaway from this whole experience was to not underestimate the power of people coming together in God's name to share experiences, food and life stories. This creates a special connection and bond between people and is something I will not forget.
Reclaiming the strength I have - Washi
My thoughts leading up to the camp was 'How will I be received in a group of women I've never met?', and 'How will I adjust outside of my comfort zone?'.
The activities definitely challenged me, as well as stepping out of my comfort and pushing myself beyond my capabilities. I learned that I had quite underestimated myself when it came to physical activities. I also found that it took me a while to feel comfortable to share with others and engage myself in conversations.
I enjoyed the activities that we had each day and also just sharing our life stories, our backgrounds and where we came from. In my determination to finish the challenges, I found myself discovering layers of confidence that I had put aside in the past as life happened. I have learned that breaking down my fears and doubts each day begins with just taking that one step towards achieving the goal. That's all I needed to do, to help me love myself even more and believe in myself.
Empower Women’s Adventure Camp is happening in 2022. Keep updated on Blue Mountain Adventure Centre and our Facebook Page for the latest!