18 leaders and 12 participants. Those were who gathered at St Alban the Martyr Anglican Church in Burnaby on a Saturday at the end of September to learn about parish development, connect with one another and have fun. The event was DYM's second annual junior youth leadership event. We partner with trainers from the Diocesan School for Parish Development to give junior youth grades 5-8 an in- depth look at one of the models we teach in the school. This year we explored the Benedictine Life Model. Through the day, participants and their group leaders moved through three workshops, each one led by a trainer from the School and a member of DYM leadership team based on a part of this model. The day also included lots of time for games and getting to know other people. A highlight of the day for many was our diocese's new, colourful 20ft parachute which we used for one of the workshops as well as many parachute games.
What makes this event work? You have to turn back to those numbers mentioned at the beginning: 18 leaders and 12 participants. It might seem counter intuitive to have more people leading and helping out at an event than participating, until you consider the fact that these 12 young people now have the experience of all these different people gathering to prepare an event that focuses on them and their leadership. They know how many people care about them and their role in our church.
Each leader had their own role to play: we had the trainers from the school leading workshops, we had volunteers from the host parish preparing food for us, we had members of DYM leadership team leading games, we had clergy from the Diocese leading small groups and worship. We also had a group of senior youth who were there to help; they came Friday evening as well to help set things up, test out and choose some of the games and get some leadership training of their own.
This division of labour really helps such a complicated event to run smoothly, but more than that, it turns a youth event into an intergenerational event. On Saturday at St Alban's we had people of all ages – we had three small children who came with their parents who are leaders, the junior youth, the senior youth helping to lead, young adult DYM leaders, trainers from the School and clergy from around the diocese as well as volunteers from St Alban's. This kind of intergenerational connection and experience is one of the most precious things the church has to offer people. Many people rarely get to spend time connecting with those of other generations outside the context of their own families, but this has always been a part of the life of the church and I believe it enriches the lives of all those involved.
That is the other reason the ratio of 18 leaders and 12 participants is wonderful at an event like this, because in fact, all of us are there to learn and grow together. We are all experiencing the joy of playing and building community, and eating, and worship. As much as this was an event for to equip, empower and engage junior youth, it was really for all of us and that is what makes this event work.
PHOTOS: Kimberly Blair