This year, our youth:link Weekend Away was hosted at Cobnor Activities Centre, a fantastic location close to the border of West Sussex and Hampshire, and minutes away from the sea! With cosy rooms and plenty of outdoor space, it was easy to get away from all of the stresses of the term, relax and spend quality time with each other.
The theme of the Weekend Away this year was ‘Free Indeed!’ Our first session of the Weekend, ‘What does Freedom look like?’, was led by Kat. We started with a simple but challenging game involving red cups, a ping-pong ball, and chocolate coins! Racing against each other, the youth had to bounce the ball into the cups to win chocolate coins, but also complete various activities at the ring of a bell. This helped demonstrate that freedom is about the power to be who God has created us to be, and to do what we have been created for (which sometimes means the power to ignore ‘the bell’), rather than freedom being just having lots of choices! (It was an ambitious analogy!) Our key points in the session were that freedom can look like: knowing your worth, knowing who you are, and knowing you are loved.
Arts and Crafts Session
After a delicious lunch, we had a chilled arts and crafts session. We put the youths’ creative skills to the test with a range of different activities including t-shirt drawing and rock-painting. With plenty of materials available, it was incredible to see the designs that the youth came up with. The session also included board games, table tennis, and one of our staff members Andrew teaching sea shanties!
Blessed with a light drizzle of rain, it was Saturday afternoon and time for the Weekend Away Wide Game! Splitting the youth into two teams, the aim of the game was to run into the opposing team’s half to steal balls while avoiding being caught by the defenders. Both teams came up with incredible war chants which rang out across the playing field as the game began. It was fantastic to see everyone getting involved and helping to do their part to push their team to victory!
The night session is always a real highlight for many at the Weekend Away. We encouraged the youth to give God space to work in them through the worship and quieter reflection times, and simply to have time to spend in His presence. We also had creative stations out to help the youth engage, such as a painted cross which the youth could pin prayers to. We were looking particularly at how we can be free through surrender to God. It was amazing to see the different ways God worked with and through all the youth.
To draw the evening to a close we finished with a bonfire along with some hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows. We gathered round the bonfire under the amazing stars, sang classic songs and told funny stories.
After we attended Mass together, our Sunday morning session was led by Karl and was all about our new identity in Christ, and how it gives us the freedom to be ‘Free Indeed’. As part of this we played a game where we blindfolded some of the youth and they had to guess which crisp flavour they had been given – except the packets and crisps inside had been swapped! We discussed how sometimes people put labels on us, but that doesn’t always reflect who we are. We also spent some time in discussion groups to help personalise what we heard in the talks throughout the Weekend.
We finished the Weekend with a game extravaganza outside. These included a youth:link classic ‘ultimate cabbage’, and antics such as the youth throwing their shows across a net. Another game included lining the youth up into two teams holding hands, while one member from the opposing team had 5 seconds to break the link in the chain. This meant the Weekend ended with lots of smiles and laughter!
And these are just the highlights of an absolutely jam-packed Weekend Away! We hope they’ve given you a good taste of all that we got up to. All that’s left for me to say is a massive thank you to everyone involved who enabled this event to happen, especially to the parents for their thoughts and prayers every step of the way – we couldn’t have done it without you! From all of the staff, we hope your children had an amazing weekend, and we can’t wait to see them all at our next event at Acton Baptist Church on the 10th March!