‘Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?’ – Luke 9.23-25From Sam Lomas:
Over a year ago when James Miller (Children’s & Youth Minister at Holy Trinity Church) and I first spoke of combining forces to take our young people to the Keswick Convention we guessed that collectively we may take 14 – 16 young people away. But the Lord had different plans, blessing the trip with a high take up from both churches. With two minibuses and a van for luggage fully loaded, 28 young people and their leaders were off on an adventure!
Here is an overview of the trip broken down into four key areas:
Our accommodation for the 8-day trip was camping – this would be a new experience for many of our young people. We booked to stay at Crosthwaite Campsite which is run each year by the Convention. The camp is particularly aimed at church groups who wish to camp. As we were the largest group booking, a segment of the field was given over to us – plot 103.
Having our own space meant we could make the camp our own, setting the tents up in an oval with a cooking tent and a marquee for dining at the head of the oval. For breakfast (cereals & pastries) and lunch (sandwiches, crisps, fruit and chocolate), we would eat inside the marquee. If the weather was good, we would bring the tables and benches outside for dinner (BBQ’s; chilli; take away pizza; cheesy pasta etc.).
At the camp there was also space for ball games. The young people enjoyed playing, football; hot potato; kicking and throwing a rugby ball during their down time. During breaks in our schedule, young people were also able to relax around the camp with their friends and the leaders. Often these moments are what makes a trip that this so special.
The young people attended age specific groups at the Keswick Convention each morning, evening and late night (9.15pm – 10.15pm). The sessions were a mixture of small group Bible studies, preaching from the front, sung worship and games. The bulk of the teaching came from Luke’s Gospel with the young people encouraged to memorise Luke 9.23-25. The aim of the teaching was to help the young people understand that following Jesus is costly, but worth it. During these sessions the young people also had the opportunity to attend seminars on a number of key topics including, ‘Bodies, Brains and Beauty (exploring their identity in Christ)’; ‘Where is God when I struggle with sin’; ‘Where is God when I don’t know what to do in the future’ and ‘Where is God when I am lonely’.
Attending a convention like this gave our young people an opportunity to spend time alongside hundreds of other young people from across the country. Being part of such a large gathering of young people was a big encouragement as many young people face similar challenges and struggles in their day to day lives but can often feel isolated. In addition to the sessions led by the Keswick Convention, each morning at 9am we held a ‘quiet time’ at the camp. This was 15 minutes where young people were encouraged to pray, read their Bible or complete a study sheet we provided. This time proved valuable as it meant that each day started with a time of peace and quiet, contemplating the goodness of God.
During the week we filled our afternoons with activities including the following:
- Hike to the top of Catbells
- Boat ride across the lake
- Played crazy golf
- Watched a film at the cinema (rainy day)
- Explored the town and had ice-cream
- Rounders and football in the park
- Kayaked on Derwent Water
On the final day, we gathered all the young people together to run the quiet time slightly differently. As leaders we wanted to give the young people an opportunity to respond to Jesus on a personal level. After a short testimony and challenge to make Jesus Lord of their lives, the young people were lead through a response to Jesus. Of the 28 young people, 15 young people raised their hands confirming they had just prayed a prayer giving their lives to Jesus. This was a precious moment for the leaders, who thanked God for this eternal fruit.
We were also able to gift all the young people a book (purchased from the 10 Of Those store). The book we gave out is called Grill A Christian by Roger Carswell and contains really helpful question and answers on difficult topics that young people often wonder about during their formative years. Our hope is that the young people will dip in and out of this book over the coming months and years helping to build up and strengthen their faith, building on what started at Keswick.
Messages since we got back:
“I really enjoyed the week, especially the activities we did. The teaching really encouraged me in my faith” – Youth From St Pat’s
“… has come home buzzing about her faith and standing taller in herself.” – Parent of Youth
Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you to our hard working, committed volunteer leaders without whom none of this would have been possible. They worked tirelessly to ensure the enjoyment and safety of our young people. Thank you!