The weekend after Conference and as Stephen has reported we were off with well over 1000 (other) young Methodists to Cliff College in the Derbyshire hills for Breakout.
Those who were camping found it rather damp the first night but by Sunday morning the sun was shining on us all. It was good to meet up with Alison Barnett and her group from Peterborough (pictured) and to have the chance to talk to lots of different people from around the country.
As always it was encouraging for teenagers to realise they are neither weird nor on their own but part of a national and worldwide family of Christians who are committed to living out the way of Jesus. And encouraging for Stephen and me to see what is possible - we are both committed to a reinvigorated youth outreach in and through the Methodist Church.
The theme of the weekend was 'Going Beyond..' and we were challenged to step out of our comfort zones - have a go at grass boarding, take to the floor with salsa dancing, experience the beat of African drumming, learn some circus skills. The President showed off his prowess on the football field...or at least that is what he told me (and has published here, so I have to believe him!).
More reflectively there were practical sessions on 'Crossing the room' and' telling your faith story' - a good model of evangelism and something everyone can do with a little help - ideas for tired youth leaders and a chance to learn more about Christian Aid, NCH and the Methodist Relief and Development Fund.
I enjoyed the Iona-style Communion but was equally impressed by the Christian band YFriday who set the weekend going and the closing Sunday worship - with Mark Slaney giving a challenge to discipleship which was simple and direct but in no way superficial or cheesy.
Our thanks to all who made it possible - the organising team, the MAYC staff, the Methodist Youth Executive and the youth leaders from local churches who do a terrific and vital job.
If you haven't thanked your Junior Church helpers or children's work and youth leaders recently go and do it now! They need your support...