Monday, September 14, 2015

Reflecting on my summer: a parish leader’s perspective

Well it’s been a busy summer here at the NYMO office. We’ve now just about recovered from a great pilgrimage to Lourdes , but just before that, we had an absolutely amazing time at Alton Castle with our friends from LifeTeen: a Youth Ministry movement from the States, that (amongst other things!) run Summer Camps. We caught up with Emily, a parish leader from Luton, to see what she made of the Summer Camp experience. 

Have you been to Summer Camp before?
No and I didn't really know what to expect, other than a lot of fun I suppose, and I certainly wasn't wrong about that part! I went into Summer Camp a bit ‘blind', as to what we were letting ourselves in for, but it just blew me away!

Well you travelled a long way on the coach. Was everyone super excited to get there?
The young people on the coach were quiet at first (but maybe that was due to our 6am start at Burnham!) and were a little bit shy, as not everybody knew everyone else, but after a few games they all began to wake up! As we neared Alton Castle I think the word 'buzzing' would describe the atmosphere on the coach…

So did you do for the week as a parish leader?
I was able to take part in all the large group discussions and talks with the LifeTeen missionaries, and when our young people would split into their small group time I would gather with the other Parish leaders and have our own small group discussions. I was also able to take part in the group activities such as mountain biking, trail hiking and a survival workshop: it was just so much fun! Summer Camp is for the young people but as a parish leader I was able to take so much away from it too!

Could you pick out some highlights?
There are too many! If I had to choose a few it would definitely be listening to the 'Glory Stories’.  Glory Stories is a moment at the end of the day, for the young people to say where they had seen God at work that day. The courage of our young people to stand in front of a room full of people and share a piece of their day with us was inspiring to watch. Obviously messy games was absolutely fantastic and seeing everybody get stuck in with the mud and powder paint was such a great laugh for both adults and young people! The last one would be the evening of Adoration, it was so beautiful to watch our young people be a part of such a moving experience that led into the nighttime Mass. It was a spiritual evening that I will never forget.

And how did your group of young people get on?
As a leader I was able to see the young people grow throughout their time at Summer Camp. When they got on the coach our young people didn't really know each other very well, and on the way home it would be hard to believe that they had all only known each other for five days! It was also lovely to see their openness towards prayer and worship and how over their time at Camp they were becoming more and more enthusiastic for praying and worshipping!
Ok, describe your Summer Camp experience in one sentence!
A week living in a Castle with fun, friendship and faith. It's hard to describe the feeling of Summer Camp, it's something you just have to experience for yourself!

Thanks Emily! You guys can see all the highlights from Camp here and check out the great pictures we got!