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The Place Where Friendships Are Made

by Gerry Lynch last modified 29 Aug, 2013 03:01 PM

Franciscan Friary in Dorset hosts youth a week of camping, activities, prayer and exploring faith journeys together.

The Place Where Friendships Are Made

47 young people from around the country attended this year's youth camp at the Franciscan Friary of Hilfield.

‘Hilfield is where it happens, Hilfield is where it is, the place where friendships are made, and where hope never fades.’  - Luke Durnell, camper 2013  

As others were jetting off to sunnier shores, a group of 47 young people and leaders from all over the country descended on the normally tranquil setting of Hilfield Friary for HYC, the annual Hilfield Youth Camp. This year, as tents were pitched the sun shone. The transforming effect of being on camp can be seen in the way that returning campers greet each other, the comments made about making friends for life and by the enthusiasm of everyone as games are played and the first worship session introduces this year’s theme of journeys.

For many their attendance at camp is like a journey in itself, for some a home coming journey and others a journey of discovery. Good food and a chance to do fun activities, which this year included an afternoon sailing at the National Academy in Portland, form an important part of the community building process and make for a fun week. However, the young people’s comments about the chance the camp provides for them to explore their faith more deeply and meet with other young people who have a faith is testament to the powerful effect that HYC can have on the lives of those who attend.

‘The Spiritual atmosphere here makes you feel closer to God.’

‘You can learn from each other and help each other because everyone is at different stages of faith and it’s brilliant to meet other people who share my beliefs. Also all the leaders are really happy to talk about their faith too. That helps you think more deeply.’    

Living in community, in the unique atmosphere of the friary, is also a really special part of the camp and makes up for having to queue for a shower. It provides the opportunity to learn about and try out different expressions of faith. ‘Taking part in Compline and just having a chance to be quiet is great’ was one camper's comment when asked about her favourite part of the week.

Another said ‘it was great to learn about St Francis and the Franciscans and realise that they are all real people on their own journeys too.

The chance for everyone to get involved in planning and leading means that everyone can contribute from their own experience and it is a safe place to give things a go. One camper said that his experience last year meant that he had volunteered for the first time to do things in his own church back home.

It is clear from the responses of the campers and the number that returned even after a particularly wet camp in 2012 that HYC is a really special part of these young people’s journey’s so if you are interested in finding out more or supporting the camp then take a look at www.hilfieldyouthcamp.org  or e-mail Lizzie Whitbread.

‘The path changes, putting one foot in front of the other, and walking alongside is your brother’  - Luke Durnell, camper 2013.

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