Whatever Group, for teenagers, has continued running this year with Mary organising the rota for herself, Keren, Paul, Sheila and Andy. This, by the way, is something Mary has been doing for just over 10 years now! We have continued to meet in the Parish Rooms in parallel with the 10:30 Sunday morning service and have highly variable numbers, depending on sports commitments and other draws on the young people's time. All in all though, we've had fun, eaten cakes and explored the Word through the year. It has also been great to see the young people contributing to the services at different times and in different ways throughout the year, especially Stephen and Matthew Macaulay.
Latterly we have run the youth equivalent of Christianity Explored, called Soul, which is, in my opinion, excellent material and pitched very well for the 15+ age group. Given the variation in numbers and our broad age range, it presented a few challenges for us but I for one would be willing to re-run it in the future.
Questions frequently arise over the future of the group. Should we be better running at a different time? Should we be running a different format of meeting? Any answers from teenagers, or parents of teenagers especially, gratefully received.
As to more outreach activities, the Youth Club continues on. It is what it is and with numbers steady over the winter at around 20+ for our mainly Community Centre based activities. The attendees (and some of the parents) have clearly valued it. Jacquie also did great work on the ice skating trip and is currently organising a bowling trip. Since the Winter Olympics, a big draw for the boys (and some girls) is our indoor curling equipment.
With the Youth Club the issues are slightly different. The club has sufficient equipment and resources (as could be seen by those who came for the pudding party) but, in the autumn, Ann Barnett will be stepping down after four years as co-ordinator. Also, I am feeling rather on the endangered list as the only male leader left. We are actively working on both these issues but prayers and support are always welcome.
On a real positive note though, I must pay tribute to Jacquie, Jane and Deanne who are absolutely great in the way they contribute their time and talents to the club. There are plenty of opportunities for people to help out, either at a meeting or by helping the meetings to happen. Occasionally parents do help but none have committed regularly – yet, except (and I must say that I'm really grateful) for Suzanne Goodier, who has taken over as Treasurer.
The older Youth Group, including those undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh's Award, has again seen many successes this year. Pete Moore and Elaine Shakespeare are at the forefront on that one, with help from Keren Coney and many others. Amazing numbers of young people have worked their way through the challenges set, including the damp expeditions. The cycle has begun once again with the March day walk from Beeston to Kelsall, which had 20 Award participants from Kelsall and surrounding villages (albeit one was serving when we stopped at Summertrees). The successes were celebrated once again last December.
As an aside, I am also helping out with 1st Tarvin Beavers as that Colony and Cub Pack are re-established in the village at their scout hut. A number of boys from Kelsall (including Harry) attend and there is a clear link between the Colony and St Andrews in the leadership and overall approach and also with activities such as their church parade and integration into the church with special services.
So in summary we, as a church, are still running and linked to a number of youth activities. Let’s hope we can build on this in 2014.