Mums in holiday youth ministry

What is a Scripture Union camp, and how did you get involved with one?

I first went on a Scripture Union camp as a fourteen year old. I was roped in by our youth leaders at the last minute. I had little idea of what to expect before I went but had the time of my life, met some great people and met with God. That was 1991 and I'm still going 13 years later - only now I take my husband along and our three children too!

The holiday is a week of outdoor and technical activities for 13-16 year olds, based in a Christian centre in the middle of rural Norfolk. There are a number of different activities offered: go-karting, computing, videoing, Internet radio, motorbikes and radio controlled cars.

The teenagers choose two of the activities to do throughout the week, assisted by experienced leaders. There is also Christian teaching woven through the week. There is an evening meeting each day plus sports competitions, games, seminars and free time. Due to the nature of the activities the camp attracts mainly boys.

 

What part do you play and what do you get out of it?

My main role is being the bookings secretary. I take in bookings throughout the year, send out all the right information at the right times, take in the money, deal with any questions parents or young people may have, deal with health forms, people's travel to and from the holiday and all sorts of administration in the run up to the week itself.

It is a year round job. I liaise frequently with the holiday leaders and with Scripture Union Head Office. I am also on the core team of five who plan the holiday each year.

During the week itself I still have some administrative and planning duties to do. I also make sure everyone who should arrive does so. I try to be a welcoming face on the first day and then for the rest of the week I am one of the nannies for the young children of the other leaders, including my own three.

What do I get out of it? Hmm. It often feels like a large and unending chore, if I'm honest. But it is a way in which I can serve others and, as a full time Mum, I relish the opportunity to serve people other than my immediate family.

After lots of paper shuffling and envelope stuffing, something wonderful happens and I know once again why I do it. It could be a letter from a parent saying how much their child loved camp, has been raving about it and is desperate to return next year. Or like this year, a young person on her third time at camp becomes a Christian and we all rejoice in a big way together about how God can use our camp in His big plan. Or it could be seeing a camper from previous years return to be a Junior Leader and we have the privilege of watching them flourish from an uncertain fourteen year old into a confident faith-filled eighteen year old taking some responsibility with younger people.

 

How does it work for you with your kids?

From a practical point of view, it can be tricky at times. The technical activities on camp involve a lot of dangerous and/or expensive equipment around on site, so it is always a worry with small children. But I am a nanny for the week so I can look after my own children along with the children of some of the other leaders, enabling them to fulfil a role with the teenagers that they would otherwise be unable to do.

From my kids point of view, it is the highlight of their year. Our boys make friends with a lot of the teenagers, get a go on some of the activities and join in with some of the worship and the spiritual side of camp.

It is a really positive thing for them. They see God at work and meet with Christians from all over the country and are a part of something that is so different to what they do at home. They have really grown in confidence and are learning to get along with people of all ages. I hope that when they are older they will be campers themselves.

 

What difference does it make to the campers?

I remember myself being a teenager trying to be a Christian in school and failing miserably because I just wanted to be like everyone else. I remember too the amazing feeling of being on our holiday with lots of other Christians of my own age and suddenly feeling like being a Christian was ok. At camp we worshipped God together in a way our church at home didn't do. I can now be a small part of bringing that to younger people. I see how young people from all over the country get together and think, hey, this is good.

Our camp is also a place where young Christians feel able to bring their own non-Christian friends which is great. We see people make close and supportive friendships with each other, we see people challenged, we see people come to faith and it's awesome to be a part of that.

 

How can other people get involved and what might they be doing?

Scripture Union are always looking out for new volunteers to help on their holidays. People with specific skills and areas of knowledge are welcome, as are people with great enthusiasm but most of all people willing to serve. Our holiday specialises in technical activities but there are many others holidays with a very different mix of activities and outings, as well as holidays that cater for different ages too.

On our camp most leaders would be in one of the activity sections, teaching, assisting and getting to know the young people throughout the week and would also be responsible for one of the tent groups, comprising of four young people. They might be in the kitchen working as a cook, or offering their musical skills in the evening meeting. They could be responsible for part of the teaching programme or act as a medic in case anyone needs medical attention.

There are new holidays being organised all the time, looking for leaders as well as new leaders being needed for established holidays.

 

Resources for finding out more

To find out more about Scripture Union Holidays - whether you want to send your own children to one, or want to find out more about being a volunteer, then go to the Scripture Union Website, and click on the link to "Holidays"

 

Article written by Hilary