Diocese of Portsmouth

    Teenagers discover more about God on activity weekend

    Children and Young People
    19 April 2022

    THESE young people enjoyed paintballing, swimming and survival techniques on a weekend away - and also explored more of God's love.

    Fifty 11 to 18-year-olds from churches across the Portsmouth area spent the weekend at the Westbrook Centre near Ryde, on the first residential organised by the ecumenical 'High Tide' group. High Tide is a monthly get-together for church youth groups of all denominations, and this was the first weekend away they'd organised.

    It included the chance to play ball games, make tie-dye t-shirts, and sing songs around a campfire - as well as experiencing relevant testimonies, lively worship and powerful teaching.

    Dozens of young people and leaders from Church of the Good Shepherd, Crookhorn, St Mary's, Portchester,  and St Jude's, Southsea, went on the weekend, along with others from Christ Central, Portsmouth, and Emsworth Baptist Church. Among those leading worship was Dom DeBoo from St Jude's, Southsea; and among those speaking were Jenni Whymark from Scripture Union and Olivia Podd from Christ Central, Portsmouth.

    Teenagers enjoy the lively worship at the High Tide weekend
    The chance to create tie-dye t-shirts
    Enjoying the beautiful grounds of the Westbrook Centre

    The young people gathered on the Friday night at the Hovercraft terminal in Southsea before being taken to the Westbrook Centre, which is run by the charity Urban Saints. They got to know each other with games before a first worship and teaching session that night.

    Saturday included a chance to create tie-dye t-shirts and to go paintballing at the nearby Splatter on Paintball, plus walks to the nearby beach and swimming in the Westbrook Centre's pool. That night's worship and teaching focussed on how our social media-drive society encourages people to be 'seen and liked', whereas God tells us that we are 'known and loved'. There was a chance to respond in creative prayer and discussion groups. Singing around a campfire was followed by a night walk along the beach.

    Sunday morning's worship was followed by some teaching in bushcraft techniques, including building a shelter and creating a fire. The young people were also encouraged to think about how to move forward spiritually when they return home.

    Josh Murphy, aged 16, from Church of the Good Shepherd, Crookhorn, said: "It enjoyed all of it - the teamwork in the paintball, the swimming, the football, and the prayer sessions and the worship. It was good to meet young people from other churches again - we would have met at previous High Tide services, so this gave us a chance to spend more time with each other."

    Chloe Smith,18, also from Church of the Good Shepherd, Crookhorn, said: "When you're feeling removed from the rest of the world and living in community with like-minded Christians, it's really refreshing. You can enjoy the worship and discuss things seriously. I liked the night walk, as we could walk with young people from other congregations and see the sights."

    Dom DeBoo, children, youth and families minister at St Jude's, Southsea, said: "It was a brilliant weekend. The input was brilliantly delivered by Jenni Whymark and Olivia Podd, focusing on the theme 'Who are you following?'. The young people are all buzzing and most of them have taken significant steps forward in their faith journey, some encountering Jesus for the first time."

    The monthly High Tide get-togethers will continue, meeting at different venues across the Portsmouth area. The next is from 7pm-8.45pm on May 13 at Christ Church Langstone, Shore Avenue. Then on June 10, they'll be meeting up at the same time on Southsea Beach, near the Coffee Cup Eastney.

    And the get-together from 7pm on July 15 at Portchester Castle, will bring the High Tide group in Portsmouth together with High Tide West, a group of church youth groups from across the Fareham and Gosport areas. For details of all these events, click here

    Many of the young people enjoyed a chance to try paintballing
    The weekend gave the young people a chance to engage with God
    Toasting marshmallows around the campfire
    Learning some basic survival techniques, such as how to make fire

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