According to Julianne Duggan, her daughter Emma was not very confident when she was young. “Emma used to be this shy, withdrawn child. She didn’t like talking to people, she didn’t want to be in front of anyone.”
But lately, things are completely different for Emma.
“We were at a party,” Emma’s dad Matthew remembers, “and Emma was talking to her cousin, asking her questions and taking a genuine interest. I hadn’t seen Emma be so confident before.”
So what has brought about this change?
Last year, after finishing high school, Emma joined CRU® as a Summit Fellow. She shares, “I didn’t want to go to uni, and Summit sounded great because you get to train in outdoor recreation and tell kids about Jesus for your job. You get to learn but also put it into practice at the same time.”
It was a challenging process to get into the program, Emma recalls. “I had a trial camp and then I had an interview. James [Director of Summit] and Lisa [Summit Staffing Manager] asked me some tough questions that I might get from kids on camp, and I had to say how I would answer. One was about gay marriage. So it was tough!”
Then once Emma was in, she remembers that the first few weeks were also difficult. “It was so tiring. I ended up coming home after every camp and pretty much falling asleep first thing in the afternoon. It was challenging just to keep going, especially the entire first term, because it's such a full, long term.”
But through the tough questions, the tiring camps and the long terms, God has been working in Emma’s life. Emma has developed resilience and confidence she never had before.
“It was really cool for me to see the difference between last year’s Term One and this year’s Term One,” Emma says. “I can actually do stuff in the afternoons after camp! I also have a lot more confidence now, especially with up the front things and just in talking to people. And I’ve done a lot more deep thinking about the Bible than ever before.”
Emma has had many opportunities to use her new confidence to walk alongside campers as they wrestle with faith. “I had one girl on camp who told me she was a Christian and that she had been finding it hard to trust in God. I had the opportunity to pray with her and tell her how much God loved her. On her camper survey, she indicated she’d recommitted to God! After I saw her survey, I talked to her and got to pray with her again, and she went home with a devotional book. She was so excited.”
In running outdoor recreation activities, Emma has also gained skills and confidence she never expected. “I knew nothing about any of the activities we do before I started with Summit. I obviously still have things to learn and to improve upon, but I’d rate my skill level in running the activities at an eight out of ten now. I don’t question myself too much!”
As a second-year Fellow, Emma has also had the opportunity to step up and help the new Fellows with the activities. “When you’re on a sailing boat with a first-year and they ask questions, it’s so cool to think, ‘Oh, I actually know the answer to that!’”
Emma’s parents are delighted to see Emma’s confidence, joy and leadership skills developing. “She’s learning skills around ministry and she’s explaining the gospel with confidence, holding discussions and mentoring people,” Matthew says. “The skills she’s learning, she’s bringing back to church and passing those skills on to other people. She’s turned into a different person!”
“She’s learning skills around ministry and she’s explaining the gospel with confidence, holding discussions and mentoring people.”
Matthew recalls one moment in particular when he recognised the impact that the Summit training has had on Emma. “She was commenting to me on how another leader at church was doing story time in Sunday school, and she was worried about it. She said, ‘You can’t keep doing it that way because the kids will get bored and disinterested.’ That demonstrated to me that she’s taking what she’s learned and applying it in a different situation.”
Looking to the future, Emma plans to stay on with Summit for a few more years. She is also excited about how she may be able to continue using her new-found confidence and skills to display Christ’s love at church: “When I meet new people at church, I’ll be able to go up and talk to them rather than letting other people do it. I know how to talk to people now, and build relationships.”