Annual Leave

Over the last 18 months my laptop has worked phenomenally hard and endured extensive use both on battery and mains power. It has travelled many thousands of miles, usually in a rucksack, by multifarious modes of transport as diverse as skateboard, train, cycle and car.
It has had open-case surgery three times and also bares the scars of encounters with walls, eccles cakes, floors and children. The laptop has been deployed in challenging circumstances such as, perched in the luggage rack of an inter-city train, on the floor outside a building that I was locked out of, and on a hillside in the Malverns. It has also had to cope with inaccurate spelling, sloppy syntax and amateurly coded html.
My laptop has therefore applied for (and been granted) two and a half weeks annual leave with effect from 5pm today. This seems a fair reward for such faithful service over long hours in demanding and ever changing circumstances.
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Sadly this means no blogging but the Laptop will be back in action in mid August and Youthblog will, once more, at least illuminate screens if not minds.

I got faith and an assault rifle!

I thought this was a wind-up at first but as far as I can tell it’s genuine. Windsor Hill Baptist Church in Oklahoma came up with a great incentive to attend their youth event, the chance to win a semi automatic rifle! They say,
” the conference isn’t all about guns, but rather about teens finding faith”
In the UK I guess it’s difficult for us to get our head around ……… having $800 budget for a youth event!! AND of course, giving a lethal weapon as a prize

Systems Summer

overloadpic.jpgOne thing I’ve noticed about us youth workers (and I admit there are exceptions) we are not the greatest administrators in the world, it is hard to be both, ”people’ and ‘paper’ focussed at the same time. Ironically though, a goodly amount of admin’ is required and I reckon most of us develop pragmatic ways of making stuff happen. All very well until you find yourself in a role like a Diocesan Youth Adviser (hypothetical example) and systems become really really important.
So, I’m declaring this ‘Systems Summer’ and thus getting to grips with the glaring holes in my knowledge as well as working out systems that allow planning, filing, tracking and retrieval, and all staying within my normal maxim of “work smarter not harder!”
This is also driven by the fact that we have SO little space at Church house and my little desk, one bookshelf and filing cabinet quickly become overwhelmed.
One thing I’m working on is the GTD system by David Allen. I’m also gleaning some knowledge from the excellent PastorHacks website and perusing this mahoosive list of 50 productivity sites usefully posted by Chris!
I also aim to become a JEDI master of Outlook as this is pivotal to reducing the amount of paper around the place. Watch this space ……….. and if I lose my people focus feel free to hit me over the head with a rolled up copy of Youthwork magazine (but not the July one as that had loads of junk mail in and was quite heavy).

Personal News

Those of you who read the original post here will know that my mum was seriously ill in hospital.
On Friday the 25th of July they were able to confirm that she had Lymphoma and planned to start treatment the following day even though she was very weak. Sadly though she became ill with a further infection during the night and then died early on Saturday morning.
I wanted to write something fitting but find that the brief narrative above is all I can manage right now.
Funeral details: Funeral announcment Macdonald.pdf
I have turned comments off on this post but thank you for your prayers and thoughts.

The vision for youth work

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Sometimes when I am responding to churches about the possibility of employing a youth worker I can sound a tad mono-thematic as I keep reinforcing the need to work out and communicate the vision. The role must respond to an owned vision not be a vague, “we need a youth worker!
I’m pleased to say that I was really impressed with a church recently who asked if I could supply work that other churches had done as an example. So, if you have any documents that would be relevant (and are happy for me to have) then I’d love to see them. I thank you!

10 Reasons to cheer our teenagers

Mark Easton writing for the BBC says,
“Reading the great British press, one might be forgiven for thinking that all our teenagers are binge-drinking, drug-addled, knife-wielding thugs ready to leap out and stab a granny for a fiver.
There is a real problem with knife-crime in some parts of the UK, let’s not pretend otherwise. And there are many other problems concerning young people in this country.
But I thought it might be timely to remind ourselves that youth doesn’t necessarily mean yob. So here are ten reasons to cheer our teenagers:

1. Teenagers are more likely to do voluntary work than people
from any other generation. In fact, they are 10 times more likely to be
volunteering in our communities than regularly being antisocial in them.

2. More teenagers than ever before are staying on at school after 16 to study.

3. And more than ever are going on to further and higher education.

4. Despite the vilification, young people are far more likely to
say England is a good place to grow up in (90%) than adults ( 71%).

5. And yet it is young people who are the most likely to be victims of crime.

6. They work hard at school – a record 62% of teenagers achieved
5 GCSEs grades A-C last year compared with 44% a decade earlier and 26%
ten years before that.

7. Nearly two-thirds of 10-to-15-year-olds have helped raise money for charity.

8. According to English schools inspectors, bad behaviour in comprehensives is at its lowest level for at least a decade.

9. 175,000 under 18-year-olds are unpaid carers in the UK with some 13,000 providing more care than a full-time job (50+ hours).

10. In a recent survey more than nine out of ten young people
said they thought their schoolwork was important and more than
three-quarters enjoyed going to school.

This list doesn’t mean teenagers are all little angels. They aren’t and they never have been. But it would be a shame to demonise a social group that is actually happier, achieving at a higher level, with better health and more opportunity for travel, sport and cultural activities than any previous generation in our history”

Pallindromic Dylan Tribute

I have long been a fan of weird Al Yankovich and consider The Saga Begins to be a work of genius (not just the fact that he tells the entire story of The Phantom Menace lyrically to the tune of American Pie, but also because he had the idea to do it in the first place). But today I have been hooting with laughter at this Bob Dylan rip off Weird Al has done using only pallindromes as the lyrics! Ht to Steve Tilley, fab!

Christmas lights! Camera? Action ……

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group have sponsored a Church competition each year for the last few years. In the past it has tended to be stuff like octogenarian choir of the year or Church warden that looks most like Michael Caine type stuff. However this year is firmly in the realm of the youth group and may benefit your yoof wurk coffers to the tune of £3K.
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The challenge is to make a 1 minute film around “The true meaning of Christmas” and upload it to the web site. Although the Oct 10th deadline does limit the avaliability of Yuletide backdrop I’m sure this will be no barrier to the the creativity of your young people.
Go to it, for the honour of the Diocese, the fun of creativity ….. oh and £3k 🙂