For Joel, growing up in a vicarage is very different to the home life his peers experience. The phone ringing all the time, constant meetings in the lounge and your Dad leading assemblies at your school! Thankfully, for the last seven years Joel has had the opportunity to regularly meet with other clergy kids to share the joys and the challenges of living with ordained parents.
Joel has recently returned from Life to the Max (LTTM), a unique weekend organised by Bristol and Bath & Wells dioceses for clergy kids aged 11-18. Led by the youth and children’s advisers, around 30 young people from across both dioceses travel to St George’s House, a Christian activity centre near Croyde, every September for a fun-filled weekend.
“Joel is one of the many clergy kids over the years who has enjoyed LTTM,” explains Dan Jones, Bristol’s Youth & Children’s Adviser. “As there is no expectation that they believe the same things as their parents, all we try to do is love them for who they are and provide space to meet others who can relate to the experiences and emotions they are dealing with.
“My hope is that other young people read Joel’s experience of LTTM (below) and it encourages them to join us next year – 16th-18th September 2016.”
How old were you at your first LLTM and what were you expecting?
I was 11 when I first went to LTTM and was nervous at first because I was unsure of what to expect from the weekend, although I was also quite excited at the thought of a weekend away from home without parents, which was a first!
What do you remember about that first weekend away?
Thinking about how long ago it was, I am surprised at how much I remember. First there was the rare chance to buy plenty of sweets without being told to put them back on the shelves, which wasn’t really something I’d thought about! I also remember trying to fit as many people onto the giant swing as possible and breaking the record at St George’s, as well as breaking the record for crate building the same day.
After the short session on what it was like to be a clergy child, a group of us (all ages) went and had a small worship session in the lounge, involving pots and pans as a drum kit! This was the only time something like this happened in the time I have been going to LTTM so I am pleased that I was able to be a part of it. Meeting plenty of other clergy children was another highlight, some of whom I still know and keep in contact with today.
You’ve been on your seventh and final LTTM – what have you valued most?
In the first few years, I valued the chance to have a weekend away from home and being able to take part in the awesome activities (run by the brilliant St George’s House team). In more recent years, the chance to make lasting friendships and talk about positives and negatives of growing up in a clergy household has been very beneficial for me. Being one of the older members of the group in the last couple of years has enabled me to share experiences of living in a clergy household with those who are younger and support them.
What will you miss?
Everything about the weekend – except the early start on Saturday morning! Being able to have a chilled weekend with a group of similar aged youths who have similar problems I have.
How has LTTM helped you as a clergy child?
It has helped me to understand that I am not the only person who has had the pleasures and problems of growing up in a clergy household, and that some other clergy children have it even harder than I do. Hearing stories about fellow clergy children who have had to move areas every couple of years has made me realise that even though I have faced difficulties of living/growing up in a clergy household, I could have had it worse. A major bonus is that we speak to each other outside of the weekend and we also occasionally meet up which has been great too!
What would you say to any clergy child who may be thinking about going to LTTM for the first time next year?
Go! It has been wonderful to go each year for the last seven years and you will most definitely not regret going to LTTM. There are always others for whom it is also their first time going and will be in the same boat as you, so you will not be alone!
If you would like more information about Life to the Max please contact Dan Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org / 0117 906 0100. Next year’s trip takes place 16-18 September 2016.