The Hideous Family have just returned from the church youth camp, tired and happy in equal measures after a wonderful four days in the company of good friends, a load of new friends made, and my word - some characters! A couple in our church, sometimes referred to on this blog as the 'Lucans' own a magnificent field at the back of their house which is perfect for camping, sports, games and the like. Around an assortment of DofE, BB, and Scout tents, and large BB marquee we laughed, prayed, played, watched films, studied the Bible, had competitions, performed in our own dreadful talent show, sang, played football and tried to sleep as the rain drummed the tent roofs.
I have been at several of these before and it was wonderful to be back. Mrs Hideous has only camped one night before but was thoroughly into it by the end of the week. Boris, Norris and Doris took to it like Ducks to water, and were all looked after wonderfully by the young people on the camp, who let them join in with their games and generously made allowances for the "midgets" !
We tied the games and the messages around the Olympic theme, and our logo above was not the glorious runner of the Beijing games, crowned with success, but Jesus crowned not with fame but with thorns. This was a great way of getting into some of the Bible's 'athletic' metaphors about the Christian life, like "Run the Race". Also there is a good illustration of sin "Only the Athlete who competes according to the rules receives the crown" (unlike Dwain Chambers!) - which was a stirring message brought to us by singer/songwriter Garry Brotherston, with powerful illustrations from his own life. We experienced God's presence with us, and young people and leaders alike were spiritually refreshed, challenged and blessed.
There was a wonderful atmosphere in the camp all week, and unlike the pessimism of the Lucan's neighbours, having 25 teenagers camping in their backgarden didn't lead to mayhem, (although it may have been noisy!) but instead to everything from hilarious water-fights to times of quiet and thoughtful consideration of the messages and prayer.
One morning I looked around the campsite and realised how many gifted people were contributing to the huge team-effort that pulled it off. The Lucans, had prepared the ground and performed extraordinary feats of plumbing, I&J were working in the mess tent, D was dozing in his tent after being up all night on duty, DrJ was administering medicines and planning, the S brothers were putting on a fab entertainments and activities programme, A,I, D & R were all in the thick of the sports competitions, while K was chatting to some of those not into the sports, the band (young people with Mrs Hideous on guest keyboards) were rehearsing, J our new youth worker was preparing a PowerPoint for the evening meeting, A&F were recording bizarre comic videos by the table-tennis table for evening entertainment, and H - Queen of Tents and camp organiser, worked herself into the ground pulling all these strands together; and then a brilliant group of young people who seemed to really enjoy the whole thing. There were others too, all doing their bit not in my view at that moment, but all part of a really wonderful team!