It's been a really interesting day in Sweden at the first of two Confirmation Camps I am visiting. This one is on the edge of Lake Helgasjön and has about forty 15 year olds on a camp that lasts three weeks!!
Young people in Sweden are not typically involved in the life of the church as teens but many come to explore confirmation (around 50% of the age group in Vaxjo Diocese). The Church invests around £700 in each confirmand and the process takes up to a year, and includes at least four nights on a residential. (Although many camps are longer than the minimum)
The Church see Confirmation as a gift to young people, helping them explore identity and issues of life, faith, meaning and death. The Church is very specific that this is for young people aged 15, furthermore they say that the minimum number is six (any church having less would have to join with a neighboring parish).
It's been a great day with a great bunch of young people. I've attended morning and evening worship with them and watched various pieces of group work, and been part of creative exploration of the Bible.
I have for a long time talked about 14-16 as the critical age for confirmation (anything else is before the intense adolescent time of identity and meaning construction, whilst also risk faith being attached only to childhood) and the need for young people to encounter leaders and young people from a wider group. It has been really exciting to see such a model in practice.
Had a very pleasant swim in the Lake this evening.
Tomorrow I am off to a very different confirmation camp near the coast