Life to the Max - Joel's story

First published 6th October 2015

For Joel, growing up in a vicarage isvery different to the home life his peers experience. The phone ringing all the time, constant meetings in theloungeand your Dadleading assemblies atyour school!

Thankfully, for the last seven years Joel has had the opportunity to regularly meetwith other clergy kids to sharethe joys and the challenges of living withordained parents.

Joel has recentlyreturned fromLife to the Max (LTTM), a uniqueweekend organised by Bristol and Bath & Wells dioceses for clergy kids aged 11-18. Led by the youth and childrens advisers, around 30young people from across bothdioceses travel to St Georges 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 whohasenjoyedLTTM," explains Dan Jones, Bristol'sYouth & Childrens Adviser. "As thereis 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 spaceto 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 itencourages them to join usnext 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 wasnt really something Id thought about! I also remember trying to fit as many people onto the giantswing as possible and breaking the record at St Georges, 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, involvingpots and pans as a drum kit! This was the only time something like thishappened 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 whomI still know and keep in contact with today.

Youve been on your seventhand 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 Georges 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 asa 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 wespeak to each other outside of the weekend and we also occasionally meet up whichhas 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 sevenyears 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 likemore information about

Life to the Max please contact Dan Jones on /0117 906 0100. Next year's trip takes place16-18 September 2016.