The confirmation camp I visited in the East of Sweden was smaller, only 24 young people and a much more relaxed affair. The feel and practice of the camp was much more democratic with young people much more partners in the camp rather than the recipients. The leaders, co-journeyers and not a hierarchy.
Those values and that openness made it much easier to spend time with the young people which was so much fun. Their English was very good and they also coached me in my attempts at bits of Swedish; many laughs and great sharing of stories.
The two week camp was exploring the Bible and also using a Henri Nouwen book (can’t find it in English but it was a book where each page was a few lines of Nouwens spiritual observations and challenge) and the young people would read and discuss in groups.
I liked the slightly monastic feel with a relaxed rhythm of prayer, work, learning … and deep regard for community. I was sad to leave in fact.
(We also had an epic game of ‘Swedish burn ball’ if I understood the name correctly and will definitely be bringing this really accessible rounders/baseball hybrid back for some fun in England)
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
Fathers day is an important day for me! Not the cheesy cards, or the supermarkets’ propensity to label ANYTHING unhealthy, fattening or alcholohic as “Ideal Fathers days present,” but the reminder of my Dad (and how much I miss him) and the focus on and celebration of what it means to be a father.
The church I happened to be at made no mention of the day at all which I found kind of sad …. and a little odd. I wonder whether a “Mothering Sunday” could pass with similar absence of reference? And if not, how can so much planning, creativity and celebration go into mums, and yet dads fail to register in any form. You either do both or neither surely?
I’m sure the church was not typical. But even so, the fact that it happened (and aside from a personal sadness) I think it’s worth reflecting on in terms of inclusivity, ecclesiology, and maybe default gender focus/bias.
Church can sometimes have a big focus on what they say but fail to notice that most of the communication happens not through what is spoken but by what is (or isn’t) in evidence.
Just musing out loud and maybe issuing a bit of a ‘shout out’ for the men.
I’m off to Sweden next week to be looking at some joint work on Confirmation with the Dioceses of Vaxjo, and to visit two of their Confirmation Camps. All very exciting, and I’m taking a youth worker from the Diocese with me which should be fun.
Sorting this all out has been a little complex especially being utterly thwarted by a Swedish automated switchboard system where I couldn’t understand a thing and thus was unsure whether I was listening to “The number you have called doesn’t exist AND NEVER WILL” or “For sympathetic help in English press #” My lack of Swedish is frustrating indeed.
Further complexity ensued yesterday when I tried to buy our train tickets from Copenhagen to Vaxjo. The site was available in English, yeah! but the Swedish names still needed their correct Swedish spelling necessitating in this case an ä and an ö. This should of been simple but the Dell laptop has no ‘Numb Lk’ so I couldn’t use the ALT codes (132 and 148) and the online booking system didn’t allow ‘insert symbol!’ I ended up on Google translate trying to remember German words which contained umlaut ‘o’ and ‘a’ so I could copy and paste the letter I needed, doh! Now have the tickets even if it does mean hanging around Copenhagen Airport for three hours on the way home (Copenhagen Airport is SO expensive for everything it makes London feel like Poundland by comparison).
Hoping to blog but may be defeated by Swedish Wifi Instructions
Had a letter today from a ‘Vicar Factory’ following some training that I did: ” ….. They found your enthusiasm for youth work inspiring, and a couple commented that this session helped them overcome a number of fears around this ministry”
*holds cigar, looks into middle distance* says, “I love it when a plan comes together!”
A commencement speech from the States that has been getting a lot of attention. The guy is s a very good communicator and I love his generalizing quirky observations that really take the audience with him to what is a sobering but life-affirming message
I have been quiet for a while on the subject of sheds (yes the workshop and the ‘other’ shed(s) are still standing) but once a year the sheddie in me is inspired by the “Shed of the Year” Competition. I love this one for it’s quirky recycled construction and for the setting, fab!
I am looking for a sessional Youth Worker for a Christian rural project just outside of Oxford.
It’s alternate Sunday evenings (and a generous rate of pay). Ideally I need someone who can cover some sessions this term BUT an applicant for September onwards would also be great. Is it you? Do you know someone?
I’d love to hear from you