At the end of July, Amy Fox, CAFOD Diocesan Officer (Youth) and Emily Heaven, youth volunteer, were excited to be invited to take part in Xtreme Adventure, a brand new Catholic youth summer camp held at Alton Castle.
The camp, run in association with the Life Teen movement, was a unique opportunity for young people from across the Birmingham Archdiocese to come together to experience faith, fun and adventure.
We visited at the start of the week, on a morning of glorious sunshine after all the weeks of rain, and found the young people engrossed in a Bible study workshop on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. This was followed by two sessions of free time, during which the group could choose from a selection of activities and workshops, from arts and crafts to frisbee on the lawn.
An enthusiastic group gathered at the top of the Castle’s Discovery Centre for a trip around the world to some of the countries where CAFOD works. We got to know each other with a game of Jambo, one of CAFOD’s Sports Icebreakers, inspired by St. John’s Sports Society in the Kenyan slum of Korogocho. Next, a game of Global Connections got us thinking about the huge number of links between ourselves and people from different countries and cultures around the world.
The group then had the chance to take on the characters of young people living in some of the countries where CAFOD works, for the World Values Auction. The characters – from Kenya, Nigeria, Cambodia, Honduras and the UK – were each given a differing sum of money based on their country’s GDP and given an opportunity to bid for a selection of items – from seeds and agricultural tools to an MP3 player. For most of the characters, even basic essentials like access to clean water were hopelessly out of reach… but Jonathan from the UK found he was able to purchase everything he wanted (and some things he didn’t) at knock-down prices, while still having piles of notes left over.
For the second session, we moved outside into the sunshine and spread our hope mural, inspired by a peace mural created by the CAFOD-supported Association for the Victims of Violence in Colombia and begun at the Exult worship event, on the lawn. To the tune of Kenyan hip-hop exploring issues of peace and justice, a crowd of young people gathered round to add their own symbols of hope to the mural. Inspired by Matthew 5:16: ‘You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before others’, the young people thought about the things that gave them hope. One young person drew some musical notes and another painted a symbol of friendship. We hope the mural will continue to grow as more symbols of hope are added at future events.
We left just in time to avoid the giant mud fight which, we were told, was planned for the afternoon! We hope (and have no doubt) that the group continued to have an amazing, adventurous week that enabled them to grow in their faith and develop lasting friendships. Thank you to Anna Howard and BCYS for inviting us and being so welcoming.
If you’re a youth leader in the Birmingham Diocese and would like to inspire your young people to put their faith into action by engaging in global justice, we can provide advice, resources, training or even tailor-made sessions. Please get in touch with Amy on 01922 722944 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.