What would go through your mind if you were asked to help look after 147 children between the ages of 10-14 for five days? 

If you were told 8 hours of sleep would probably be a luxury, all day you would be around children leading activities and looking after them? 

That your meal times would be spent eating with and talking to the children, you might be disturbed at night by a child being homesick or unwell, and you would have to be an example to the children in your conduct at all times?

To some possibly your worst nightmare. But for the 41 team members serving over the Connect holiday at Capernwray it was an exciting challenge and joy. Although you won’t be surprised to hear I didn’t use those words to describe the job to them.

From the 29th March to 2nd April we had the privilege to welcome 147 children through the front door at Capernwray Hall. I really like this number, because only one number is missing to be reminded of the first time Capernwray was privileged to welcome its first guests – May 1947. Imagine how many people will have walked through the same front door during the last 77 years!

So, what happened at Connect 2024?

Let me tell you what a typical day looked like for a young person:

You wake up completely refreshed, have a shower and make your bed. You have a healthy and balanced breakfast (consisting of some fruit and oat-cereal, none of that sugary stuff).  You brush your teeth and you grab your Bible to be 10 minutes early to the morning meeting. 

You laugh at Pascal’s jokes and well prepared PowerPoints, listening to the teaching without disturbing your friends. After the meeting you don’t leave your belongings lying around somewhere and join in with the late morning activities, going down the zip wire or safely driving the pedal Go-Karts. 

You’re on time for lunch, and then you go to the activities you signed up for, not forgetting what they were. You contact those at home to let them know how you are doing and tell them how grateful you are for them. 

At dinner you eat salad as well as everything you put on your plate and then you are on time for the evening meeting where you laugh at Pascal’s jokes again. Make a mental note to tell everyone at home how good his PowerPoints were, then you take a lot of notes from the talk. After that you run around during one of the late evening games and finally be on time for the 30 min room discussion with your two room leaders before going to bed for another 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep……

Two disclaimers: 

This sounds like a description of heaven.

We actually (in some way) got fairly close to this.

While of course a lot of this is entirely made up because we are not robots and because children love to run around screaming with joy and learning where the boundaries are by pushing certain rules and guidelines, we still had an incredible time. 

Every room was looked after by two team members and at the end of the day we would spend time talking about the day:

  • What went well
  • What didn’t go well
  • What we learned
  • What our thoughts were 
  • Asking any questions 

During this time, the team would share about their own lives, helping the children to learn from their own decisions and mistakes.

We have seen groups of girls who did not get along at the beginning of the week suddenly apologising to each other and becoming friends. 

Others who were arguing and annoying each other started to pray out loud during room time and some discussed how they can be better Christians at school. 

During the meetings it was moving to see so many of them joining us in singing the worship songs.

When we explained the gospel, around 40 children came to the leaders at the front to give their life to Christ, to be prayed for, or to rededicate their heart to Christ.

On the last full day we informed them that for the hour before dinner no activities would be run and we were giving them their booklets and encouraging them to take an hour to reflect on what they heard and experienced at Connect. We saw many of them writing down their thoughts or reading a passage in the Bible and praying.

No doubt these 5 days were tiring, exhausting, and challenging.

No doubt God did miraculous things and is working in all of our hearts.

Please join us as we give thanks to our heavenly Creator, who made us fearfully and wonderfully, who calls us His masterpieces, who has a plan and purpose for our lives, and who gives us everything we need for each day. We trust in Him alone and lean not on our own understanding.

Pascal Otto

Holiday Programme Coordinator

Pascal focuses on conveying to young people the relevancy of the Bible and how it equips them to follow the Lord. Additionally, he supports the planning, running and overseeing of the holidays, and staying connected to our guests and volunteers. Pascal enjoys growing out his beard, playing games and sports. 

This news item was posted on 19 April 2024.

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