Movers and Makers: Amplify Tonga and Samoa

Movers and Makers: Amplify Tonga and Samoa

This year, Amplify Creative Arts Camp was held around the territory. War Cry checks in with Tonga and Samoa Regions about the goings on at this year’s Amplify.


Amplify Creative Arts Camp is usually only held in New Zealand, but last January, it was also hosted in Tonga and Samoa. From spray painting to stage set-up and even a ukulele band, Tongan and Samoan young people were able to showcase their unique cultural creativity.

Tonga

This was the first Amplify that Tonga has ever held, and Regional Youth Worker Mele Vaea explained there was a bit of pressure to make this Amplify as big and exciting as New Zealand’s one. Despite some challenges, it ended up being an exciting new experience for everyone involved.

It was a week-long camp held at Tupou College in Toloa, with a programme made up of four main areas: vocal; dance; music; and videography, photography editing, stage set-up. Young people could choose majors and minors in which to participate, but were encouraged to give anything a go.

The team ensured there was something for everyone at the camp. Mele explained that although Tonga is a country that is passionate about music, they wanted to include creative expressions for the young people that weren’t just music related. There were even workshops in spray painting, as that is a form of artistic expression in Tonga.

‘We do this to illustrate that not just music has life in it or tells a story, but you can actually have something visual, like visual art, saying that,’ said Mele.

Many of their young people weren’t able to come as they had holidays booked and were out of the country; because of this, they lowered the age limit from 16 to allow teens as young as 13 to attend. Mele was pleased to see that by the end of the camp, the younger teens learned many new skills and grew in confidence.

The Friday night concert was both enjoyable for the audience and a great way for the young people to showcase what they had learned over the week. There were 16 items and one of the highlights was a drama performance, which Mele explained is not something showcased much in Tonga.

‘The drama act was very creative and it caught the attention of the audience, like it was something different but right to do. Also, the audience was joining in, and they were just loving it too,’ Mele said.

Even though it was only a week-long camp, it started a creative spark for the young people of Tonga. Mele said they are hoping to offer regional workshops in the future to keep the young people focused on their creative pursuits—not just for a week, but throughout the entire year.

Samoa

Samoa Amplify was held at Apia Corps’ new property over the weekend break from Friday to Sunday, with a small but close-knit group of young people and leaders.

The programme’s focus areas included timbrels and ukulele, performing as a worship team, choir, flower arranging, and testimony writing and sharing. Because it was a small group, instead of breaking into majors and minors they did all the activities together.

Samoan Regional Leader Captain Eric Turner said, ‘There was something really nice in actually doing all the workshops together. We had that right through, and people were developing relationships, getting to know each other … and just enjoying being together. There’s fun and value in being together.’

Samoa first held an Amplify two years ago. Last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid-19 lockdown, so they were excited to run it again this year. It was the first time it was held on their new premises, and Eric said it was great to have it on their own Salvation Army land. He said that camps like this are not commonplace in Samoa so they wanted to make it a special, enjoyable time for all.

Eric felt there was ‘beauty and peace’ throughout the weekend, and lots of fun and laughter. There was also significant growth in the young people as they shared their testimonies with boldness, and showcased the many skills they had learned.

They all played a timbrel item at the Sunday Amplify celebration service, a musical instrument which was very common in the Army’s history, but was given a touch of Samoan style at the camp. The leaders also taught the young people a song on the ukulele, and they played as a ukulele band at the celebration service as well.

Teaching sessions were based on the territory-wide theme of ‘Movers and Makers’, encouraging the young people despite their age to not be afraid to use their talents and gifts.

Eric said, ‘there was freedom to worship and there was freedom to share their thoughts and their discoveries about Scripture and their relationship with God … it’s great to see the young people just being free’.

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