Getting away from it all
If you’ve been in youth work for any length of time, you’ll know the value of taking young people away for a weekend or longer on a residential. Away from the pressures of their everyday lives and in a caring community of Christians, young people can grow in their relationship with God, make some definite life changes, become more confident, feel more supported and get to know others – both young people and leaders – much better. For some reflection on these benefits of a residential, check out this post on our youth blog.
You might be very experienced in running residentials, but if you’ve never done it before, it can be quite daunting. Also, it’s getting a bit late for this summer to book a venue and organise all the catering, risk assessments, booking forms and finances. But never fear! There are some great options still open to you!
There are quite a few youth festivals happening again this summer. You’ll need to coordinate camping, tents and catering, but at least the venue, spiritual programme and activities are all sorted. Here are two of the most popular.
- Soul Survivor takes place in Stafford (27 to 31 July), Kinross (6 to 10 August) and Somerset (13 to 17 and 19 to 23 August).
- New Wine has a youth programme and dedicated youth venues. It takes place in Somerset on 23 to 29 July and 31 July to 6 August.
There are also holidays for young people run by different organisations. The majority of these are in boarding schools or residential centres (so no camping!). You won’t have to do much prep work, as the whole event is organised by a team of leaders, and these are particularly good if your group is smaller. You yourself will benefit from meeting other youth workers and being part of a larger team. Some of the larger providers are:
- Scripture Union: general interest and specialist holidays for young people aged 11 to 18.
- Urban Saints: holidays and short breaks for young people aged 11 to 18.
- CPAS: holidays (called ‘Ventures’) for young people aged 11 to 18.
I myself volunteer on a holiday run by Scripture Union, called Curtains Up! A creative arts holiday, aimed at young people aged 13 to 17, the holiday provides a place where young people can explore their creative gifts and also work out how they can use those gifts to worship God. Every year, we are floored by what God does in the young people’s lives, and also in the lives of the leaders. The temporary Christian community created by being away together is a powerful thing to belong to and provides a safe backdrop for young people to explore their faith and work out what how that faith might be evident when they get home.
The value of a residential trip can’t be underestimated in terms of relationship-building, faith development and changed lives. If you can’t make it this summer, then why not another school holiday? And if you could do with some help, let us know!
Alex Taylor is part of the children’s and youth team for the Diocese of London, and is co-leader of Curtains Up!