Young people from churches across the diocese are in Ripon, North Yorkshire, this month for a life changing holiday to remember, joining with hundreds of others from across the country.
Around 240 teenagers and young leaders are taking part in two Christian summer holiday ‘venture’ weeks at Ripon Grammar School, led by married clergy couple, Rector of Leeds, Canon Sam Corley, and Curate at St Edmunds Roundhay, the Revd Claire Corley (pictured right).
They’re just two of hundreds of Christian holidays for different age groups of children and young people taking place across the country, many of them run under the auspices of national church organisations like Scripture Union or the Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS).
Sam and Claire have been running the CPAS Ripon Venture weeks for 12-18 year olds for around 18 years and say that despite their busy lives in the parish the rest of the year, they wouldn’t miss this for the world. “Yes it’s a big commitment but it’s also great fun”, says Sam. “In the same way that some people tithe their money we tithe our time, I guess, and so we give up a few weeks each year to do this with young people.”
Joining Sam and Claire are around 50 young leaders at each of the ventures. They see the training of older young people in leadership as equally important to giving the younger teenagers a great time. “I am passionate about seeing young people as leaders in their churches today, but particularly as raising them up as leaders in their generation” says Sam, and he adds: “I’ve got a personal ambition to get as many people as possible ordained, that I know!”
Teenagers from churches in Harrogate, Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Halifax have taken part, with financial help to those from some inner city areas of West Yorkshire who would otherwise be unable to pay.
This year’s programme has included everything from gorge scrambling and caving to sports, games, crafts, music, computers – and of course trips out to places like Lightwater Valley. Discussion groups, talks, testimonies, and worship are also central to the weeks, a place where young people can grow in faith and ask difficult questions. “They get space to ask the questions they really want to ask and get answers that are honest,” says Claire. “To watch young people grow in faith is such a privilege.”
What those on the Venture say
Jack, 22 —a young leader “I graduated 12 months ago and I’ve been travelling round the world for a year before coming back to Ripon. My whole year was planned around when Ripon started. I love it. It’s been fundamental to my own faith, my growth to the friendships I’ve made here, and now it’s about giving back to the members, giving them the same opportunities that I have had.”
Jacob, 15, from Sheffield: “I like the seminars and the team games. I’m really looking forward to going to Lightwater Valley, and also the gorging and the kayaking.”
Grace, 16, Bradford: “I’ve been coming since I was about 11. I love meeting the people here, I love the games, Lightwater Valley and even the ‘dinner-dance’ on the last evening. I came here with a group and I am looking forward to getting closer to God. When I go back home most of my friends are agnostic or atheists so it helps me to talk about my beliefs and strengthens my faith.”
Eve, 14, Yeadon: “I like the different take on how they teach people about God – it’s better than Sunday School, it’s really fun too. I enjoy the crafts and making things to do with the themes.”
Carly, 15, Newcastle: “This is my 4th time at Ripon. I like meeting people my own age, and people who have the same beliefs as me as well as rekindling friendships. I like the sports in the morning. Originally I came with the Bradford group but now I am in Newcastle and have come on my own. I’m really looking forward to the Dinner-Dance at the end of the week.”
Dan, 22, a young leader: “How you spend your time here—even if its just for a week in the summer – impacts your time for the rest of the year. Last year I was waiting for my results and coming here was the catalyst for listening to God to hear what he was saying. From wanting to do one line of study, it changed to medicine and from that came the offer of a place at Medical school. I learned that relying on God is not just about reading the Bible and amazing stories in the past. Actually its about the present, it’s a living Gospel and we take part and co-create with God and it’s exciting.”