We were very privileged to welcome a team of youth leaders from the Hillsong church in Guildford who led our annual Retreat for Years 7 - 11 from Monday 29 January to Friday 2 February 2018. Each year group had a day off-timetable to spend 'on retreat' with a theme based on one of the teachings of St Catherine of Siena, 'Be who God called you to be and you will set the world on fire'.
Each day began with an opening prayer and introduction in the Chapel followed by team-building activities which soon got all the girls feeling relaxed and receptive. They were then split into three groups for sessions covering:
Talks and activities exploring the skills needed to be a leader. The girls were challenged to consider how leadership is about influence, relationships, trust and respect. They focused on three concepts: 'Uncomfortable', 'Know Yourself' and 'Know Others'.
Personal Value and Worth
This session focused on self-esteem and encouraged the girls to recognise their true value. One of the activities involved the girls creating a wedding dress from toilet tissue requiring teamwork and interaction as well as lots of laughter. Some of the creations were quite amazing! The leaders asked the girls about their understanding of worth and value. They used the example of a ten pound note to show that even if it is wrinkled and thrown on the ground, it always maintains its value. Likewise, no matter what others say to us or how others treat us, we always have intrinsic worth and value.
Being Unique and Being Different
Seen as a strength, the youth ministry leaders explored the ways in which our differences make us who we are. They also discussed the impact of comparisons on our self-image. The girls were challenged to recognise and say one characteristic about themselves that they like. Activities included creating an animal shape simply by tearing paper. The final result for each was a shape which successfully depicted the animal but all were unique and different.
The sessions above were very engaging, involving a mixture of talks, presentations, games, discussion and fun group activities. Girls from all the year groups were captivated by the thought-provoking approach of the young, energetic Hillsong leaders. Accompanying teachers commented on how involved ALL the girls were, even those who are usually more shy in group activities. Our Chaplain, Mrs Dalton, was delighted and praised the girls for being open to this very special experience. She also appreciated the highly competent way in which the whole week was organised.
The Hillsong team was made up of volunteers, some of whom are university students or young professionals, who gave up their week to run our Retreat. They are young people with an obviously deep faith, which informs their teaching in a very inclusive way. This made them very accessible and welcoming to all the girls who we are sure will have returned home at the end of their day buzzing. Hopefully, they will be able to take some of the insights they gained into their lives going forward.
Grateful thanks to Bryony, Josh, Celine, Lauren, Jordan, Jess, Charlotte, Angelo, Helder, Jakke, and Michael from Hillsong, Mrs Dalton, Mrs Jones and the many other Farnborough Hill staff who helped in any way to facilitate this wonderful week.