So, tell us why you applied for this job?

Yesterday I was interviewing youth workers for a job in Reading! Great time and I enjoyed the informal time with the candidates as well as the formal interviews themselves. I find it a fascinating process!
Can’t really say too much (obviously) but what really impressed me yesterday was the questions that the candidates asked us, these communicated so much. I have often been amazed at lack of preparation from candidates for Church youth ministry jobs which is evident from the ‘token’ question the panel get asked. Not yesterday!
Confession time: I love being interviewed and thrive on the whole ‘game of chess’ that it is as you answer the questions, apply experience and examples AND work out why the question was being asked and respond accordingly. I’m actually sometimes tempted to apply for jobs as it looks like the interview would be fun! (Sometimes a background in Sales messes with your mind eh?)
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So as we are in the twilight zone of the interview …. What’s the best question you’ve been asked? and conversely, what’s the worst?
(Oh and any comical horror moments from interviews that you are willing to share would probably elicit much need chortling from various offices and homes within the readership)

The Breadth of Youthblog

I have been musing in the car on how difficult to know exactly where to pitch youthblog. The readership is broad and includes:
> Youth workers/ministers (voluntary and paid) who tune in because of the content
> Teenagers who know me (& have told me they like somewhere that’s positive about teens!)
> People who like the humour (hard to believe I know) and have never met me
> Friends and relatives (Hi Stuart P the Autostuhlmeister)
> People who stumble in accidently looking for sheds or coffee!

So, where do I pitch it. Obviously Youthwork/ministry is the unifying feature but some of the blog-guests are underwhelmed in the extreme by talk of ‘incarnational ministry’ or ‘informal education’. Humour seems to be popular, but how far from Youth ministry can I stray? And probably the biggest issue is how much of my world should flow into Youthblog? … too little and it becomes a factocentric bulletin board, whilst too much and it becomes a self obsessed private (but public) diary. Further to this the overlap between these two is complex, for example this weekend was spent with a few friends and their children BUT it’s been the inspiration for a major piece of theological reflection on the Church and discipleship …. which will appear later in the week …………. all of which is a longhand way of saying, Should I write about my weekend away OR not?

Thought for the day

Apologies for the blogging vaccuum but I’ve been away for the weekend (maybe I should have mentioned this before but am unsure how many burglars read the blog). I will post properly later but right now the school run beckons. In the meantime here is a Radio 2 stylee thought for the day ……
Sometimes banning things makes them even more attractive
(but then again, sometimes it doesn’t)
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007 Licensed to Youthwork

I see from ‘Young people Now’ that the snappily titled, ‘Youth work sector skills council’ are considering a ‘Licence to Practice’ for youth workers! It’s early days yet and what this might mean is open to speculation but I thought it was worth flagging up. I guess it could be anything from a basic approach that means that you are registered and checked…… right up to a training requirement. I guess this is interesting for us in the ‘faith sector’ with SO much quality work being delivered by volunteers, not to mention the large number of employed youth workers with a diverse range of deployments and focuses. It’s also interesting because the professional qualification will soon need to be a degree and I’m unsure whether this will limit the ‘Christian’ courses’ ability to include theology and ministry in a degree that also gives professional youth work status.
I am a huge fan of the double-negative so enjoyed this take on the idea from ‘Lifelong learning UK’ that this,
‘is not an uncontoversial issue!”
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I cobbled together Youthblog’s idea of a ‘Licence to Practice’ but obviously I’d prefer us to have nifty Metal Badges in a leather wallet ala the NYPD.

“Stand aside please I’m a Youthworker!

Woolhope Cockshoot Activities

A couple of people have asked for some of the activities that my group have accessed from Woolhope. I’m putting it on the blog so people can find it in future. If you are not planning to go to Woolhope then this entry can be filed under ‘About as useful as a chocolate teapot’
Woolhope Cockshoot is on the junction that is shown on this Google Map, but the other side of the crossroads than marked.
web woolhope.jpg At the Centre: 1. Bonfire in the back garden (you’ll need to find wood for this)
2. Walks from the cottage. Woolhope Cockshoot is on the junction of five roads and in an area with plenty of footpaths. OS Explorer Map 189. 3. Table Tennis in the Cellar (worth bringing some ping pong balls) 4. The Dining Room and the two downstairs rooms lend themselves quite well to dividing up for challenges, discussions etc. It’s a great place for group work. 5. Woolhope is great for ‘Hide and Seek’ if the group are mad enough. 6. Woolhope is also great for involving young people in the organisation and delivery of the residential, planning, cooking etc AND cleaning the centre ready for the next group!
A great late night option is the ‘walk around the block!’ It’s a hilly 35 minute stroll and the map and instructions are here: Download file
The nearest towns are:
> Ledbury (nearest supermarket)
> Great Malvern
> Hereford (Leisure Centre 01432 272512 & 10 Pin Bowl)
> Ross on Wye
These all lend themselves to photo challenges, treasure hunts, hunt the leader etc. You’ll find the Tourist Centre for Malvern here and the other towns here.
symonds yat rock.jpg Just beyond Ross on Wye is Symmonds Yat where there is a MAZE museum (bit naff for teenagers), A Canoeing centre and an Activities Centre. There is a good walk up to Symonds Yat Rock or another, down one side of the river, over a suspension bridge and back via a rope ferry (summer only).
There’s another page of links here including the Forest of Dean (a bit further away)
The Malverns (OS Explorer map 190) are awesome and some great walking. At 425m (peak) not mountaneous but groups do need to be prepared as conditions can be different or change quickly. We’ve done Kite making and then flown them, egg rolling, a Dawn communion on Easter day and some orienteering.
One walk option is to park at ‘British Camp’ then walking over the peaks to Great Malvern itself and catching the bus back to ‘British Camp’
Mountain Mayhem is about an hour away but unfortunately all their activities are for 18 plus APART from Painballing. To their actual centre at Craswall from Woolhope, use this: Download file
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Out to Grass is a mountain boarding centre near Bromyard. Note that it’s a good idea to phone and confirm as our bookings have got ‘lost’ on a couple of occasions.
I’ve not used them but adventure education contacted us at Woolhope to mention their services in various outdoor ed’ pursuits
It’s 25 miles away but I hear good things about Moat House Karting at Cotheridge. (I have not had chance to check them out yet).The person who runs it is Tony Collis 01905 333673. (If you go, please let me have more info)

Kenda Creasy Dean

Kenda Creasy Dean will be in the UK in May and I highly recommend that you invest some time in hearing what she has to say. Pete Ward in his critique of her book, Practicing Passion said that it was ‘the most important book written on youth ministry in the last twenty years’ …… and given that Pete contributed majorly to the field in this time himself, this is quite a recommendation!
She’s doing a day in Guildford on May 15th (e-mail Tim Sudworth for details) and CYM Oxford are hosting a day on the 16th and you can download a booking form here. Download file
I’ll be at the Oxford one and am very happy to meet folk at the station before walking onto CYM.
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I’m just reading Starting right at the moment …………. reveiw to follow

Punctuation?!!

I’m OK with words but must, I reckon, have dozed through lessons at school where ‘punctuation’ was covered.
When I was at st Nix, one of the youth group became the official punctuation adviser and re-hashed publicity and the like before it was allowed to be printed.
I’ve just sent out a kit list for a residential and was surprised to get a text saying, “I haven’t got a waterproof Top hat!” SO if anyone else is confused about this …… it is should read,
Waterproof top, hat and gloves!

FREE: Exalt event near Reading March 11th

exalt.jpg Sonning Deanery were due to have their annual weekend in March but sadly it has had to be cancelled due to lack of numbers 🙂 The Good News however is that EXALT (Hip Hop groovy Saltmine type bods) are still coming for the day on Saturday 11th, hence publicizing an EVENT that is REALLY close. It should be a fab day though and if you can mobolize your young people rapidly enough then I hope you can support it. If you are interested please drop them an e-mail now to register an interest. All the details are below ………………

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A splurge of the useful, the personal and the nonsensensical

I had a great weekend! On Saturday Jo and I went to hear John Hegley (very cool performance poet) and had a great laugh. He dedicated the evening to everyone who had ‘teaching difficulties!” On Sunday I had the privilege of dining at Brasenose College Oxford as JP (former member of the youth group) invited me. Great fun and a WHOLE different world, I loved it.
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Anyway that was stuff you don’t need to know, this is stuff you might: (click continue reading)

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The Essay: A fight for existence

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I only have one and half terms to go before I (hopefully) gain my professional qualification in youthwork, A black belt in informal education snappily entitled a ‘JNC!’ Although it has at times been a frustrating experience given that there is no recognition of 20 years experience and prior training, I am enjoying it. The area I am struggling with though is essays *shudder!* In the Darwinian battle for available time the dominant meat eaters, as it were, are clearly family, work, home and the like. Essays exist merely as an ill-equipped herbivore struggling not to become extinct. BUT sometimes a looming headline gives them that evolutionary edge and they fight back. This being one of those ocassions I am sitting in a coffee shop battling with,
‘Critically discuss the ways in which new Labour have sought to identify and tackle social exclusion in relation to the young people you work with’
However my PhD from the University of Life (a highly accomplished piece of research in the art of Procrastination) is kicking in big time. I have done 500 words BUT then decided to use an Essay Generator to see what it might come up with. Sadly the results (below/continue reading) are not going to cut-the-mustard but amused me nevertheless 🙂 Shalom

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