After the Rev Bill & Daphne Foster married they felt a calling to mission work overseas. In the middle ‘70’s the Fosters meet the Rev Dr Jim Ridgway of the Australian branch of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, who was studying in America at the time, and persuaded them to come to Australia. In 1974 the Fosters arrived in Australia and took up the pastorate at the Sunshine Wesleyan Methodist Church in Melbourne. Not long after Bill returned to America to complete his Master Studies in Adult Education.
Whilst there one of the areas he looked at was singles ministry. It was at this point that the idea for Camp Solo (as it was originally called) was born. Once they arrived back in Australia he tried to convince Youth For Christ, and other Christian groups, that a singles ministry was valid but no one was interested or saw that there was a need.
During one of the YFC camps on the Gold Coast that Bill would often speak at, some of the leaders and campers were now too old to be at YFC youth camps. They came to him and asked where they could go for a singles group as they were lonely and wanted something suitable for them.
The ‘final straw’ for Bill was when some of the singles in Bill’s church at Sunshine Wesleyan in Melbourne complained about doing everything on their own and didn’t like to go on holidays by themselves.
So in 1982 Bill & Daphne begin preparations for Solo’s first camp. They financed the initial one and ‘Camp Solo’ was born. Bill went into partnership with YFC where they supplied the cook and food and he supplied the people. The first advertising was made in the July ‘82 issue of ‘New Life’ and announced that Bill Foster would be the speaker.
So on the 10th to 16th January 1983 Camp Solo’s first camp at the Tallebudgera Recreational Centre was a complete success. There were 82 that attended that camp and a lot of people were blessed and came into a new relationship with God because of the ministry given.
The current director, Rev Steve Mitchell, was introduced to Club Solo by Bill Foster one day as they were going to see a football match in Melbourne. I was studying at Kingsley College at the time and was serving at Bill’s church at Sunshine Wesleyan Methodist Church as worship leader. As they entered the ground Bill asked would he be interested in doing worship leading at the next Camp Solo camp at Log Cabin Lodge, Creswick. As it meant a free camp and a chance to get away for a long weekend from college I readily agreed.
Little did I know that 31 years later, after also being registrar and cleaner, I would now be the director. After the early days when I thought it was only a free camp and that would be all, I now know that God was grooming me to take over when the time was right. Steve took over the directorship of Solo in 1997 and has held it ever since. It became a National Auxiliary of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Aus. in 2006.
I was born into a minister’s home and so know well the Christian life within the church. I was also married at a young age of 21 and divorced some 6 years later. After spending 12 years as a single I met my wife through Club Solo. I do know how singles think and feel, as I have been through marriage, divorce & remarriage, so I know what it is like to be single and Christian.
There have been a lot of great times in his life that revolve around Solo’s ministry and the best of those were finding his wife Michelle at Solo as well as having two wonderful kids.
But probably the most fulfilling thing about Solo for me is to see folk who come to camps and events and you can see them change and become a better person because of the ministry given to them. Even though I am the director I rely heavily on the voluntary committee that help out at functions and camps to make it the best it can be so the ministry to the folk who come is the most effective.
In 2017 Club Solo, as it is now called, is still ministering to single adults around Australia but in a better way since email, internet and websites have developed. More Christian singles are each year are getting ministry through Solo, as well as those that have been coming back for years, and in some cases, decades. They see Club Solo as their family and me as their pastor as the church that they go to doesn’t have anything for singles.
We have regular monthly events as well as camps and holidays away. Our next camp is at the Norval Conference Centre, Halls Gap over the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend in June & then one in NSW in September at Bethshan Conference Centre in Wyee. Our weeklong Gold Coast Holiday follows in January 2018. If you would like any information about these camps and holiday then please don’t hesitate to contact me.
If you would like further information as to how Club Solo can best serve the singles in your church then please don’t hesitate to contact me on the email or website or phone number below.
Thanks for reading
Rev Steve Mitchell