David McCormick, one of the Rise volunteers, takes us through the first part of this year’s week-long event for the Salesian leaders of the future
For the second year, some of our youth ministry volunteers gave part of their summer to running the Rise summer camp at Savio House, Bollington. Rise was created for young people leaving secondary education in years 11 to 13, aiming to provide training and experience to aid them in their lives, offering valuable leadership, communication and youth work skills. The intention is that the young people involved with this camp will then join our Salesian Youth Ministry group, and become involved in other projects in the future. It's an exciting project to be part of.
Our week together started with volunteers gathering on Monday morning in order to make sure everything was in place for the arrival of our young people later on in the day. The first of our arrivals was a group of boys from Salesian College, Farnborough, with young people from St. Joe’s, Horwich, and All Hallows, Preston joining us slightly later on, to complete our community.
The idea of community was built on almost immediately, as the group were given time to make themselves feel at home, before we started with an introduction to what the Rise Summer camp actually is, and of course, an introduction to Don Bosco. Following this, we had our first session together, with the young people and team taking part in a series of team building challenges, offering varying levels of difficulty and fun with each one. Even from this very early point in the week, it was clear to see that the energy was going to be very high, with even those from the team who had come straight on to the week from other summer camps, or pilgrimage, finding energy and encouragement from the rest of the group.
This encouragement was something that continued in to our second day together, which saw the group focus on communication, team work, and youth work skills. All of these things involved us “competing” with each other at some point, with the overall goal of getting us working together. The morning saw us focus on our communication, which boded well for the main part of our day, as we headed to Venture Out activity centre. Here, we took part in more team activities, as two groups. Again, the tasks were all very, very different, but were all equally as challenging. The varying skill sets of the group were put on display throughout this part of the day, with all of us excelling in different activities to other people within the group.
The latter part of our afternoon out saw us all getting a chance to swim about in the River Mersey for a while, as we went raft building. Again, this activity was team based, as we were split in to two teams in order to race across the small section of river on the rafts that we had to build in our teams. Despite almost everybody, if not everybody, ending up in the water, it was clear that all of the group thoroughly enjoyed this part of the day, and the team spirit was exceptionally high throughout.
Our final session gave the young people a chance to think about some youth work skills that could be useful – an activity that was also helpful to the volunteers ‘ own development as youth workers. The task involved groups, straws, a lot of small pieces of paper, and very little breath at the end, but taught us all a very important lesson – what is not said is equally as important as what is said. The conclusion of this session saw the young people challenged to come up with their very own Salesian Goodnight for the group, which was delivered excellently around our campfire.
On Wednesday, the group were introduced to two different styles of leading, following in the examples of Don Bosco, and Mamma Margaret. Although a very insightful session, there was also plenty of fun to be had, with two volunteers from the group being blindfolded, and basically told to dress themselves in items of clothing that had been laid around the room. The group were given the opportunity to discuss the difficulties that they faced during this game, and how easy they felt it to lead others. The group were then given plenty of time for reflection, moving forward in the day, as we went into our self-awareness and development session. Here, they were given the chance to think back on events that have happened in their lives already, and consider what advice they would give their younger selves, before looking forward and thinking about their dreams for the future. Wednesday also saw us head to Crosby beach for our Emmaus walk, after a trip to the Salesian community in Bootle, for the young people to be given the chance to engage with more people in the Salesian family.
With two days still remaining on our summer camp, and a lot to do, there is still the same energy within the group that was present at the start, however, the sense of community is now even stronger than it was following our first few team challenges. The group will continue to be pushed, and challenged as we go through the week, with us heading to Manley Mere on Thursday, where the young people will learn how to carry out a full risk assessment, as well as having plenty of fun, and getting very muddy.
So, at the halfway point of our week, we have shared a lot of joy, and there has been a lot of insight, both for and from the young people. Nothing that has been asked of any of these young people has been too much, and they are definitely the kind of young people Pope Francis talked of during World Youth Day, the kind who go out and do things, and look to make a difference, and our youth ministry group would be enriched to have any, if not all of these young people joining us in the years to come as volunteers themselves.