For advice on youth activities as Covid-19 restrictions ease, please contact Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie at Christinabaillie@connordiocese.org.
Young people from across Connor Diocese had a fantastic experience when they visited Escarmouche Action Park at Shane’s Castle, Antrim, on January 15 (see gallery below).
The event was organised by Christina Baillie, Diocesan Youth Officer, and Connor Youth Council in place of the annual residential which had been scheduled for Castlewellan Castle, but had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Christina was determined that the Connor Takes the Castle event should still be based in the solid walls of a Castle, and the Escarmouche Action Park proved the perfect venue.
Groups of young people came from All Saints’, Antrim; St Michaels, Belfast; Drummaul; the United Parish of Ballynure and Ballyeaston; St Columba’s, Derryvolgie; St Nicholas’, Carrickfergus and Lisburn Cathedral.
Activities included laser tag, an assault course, tug of war and Connect 4 basketball. As it was a Saturday in the middle of January, it was chilly outside, and everyone was thankful for hot drinks and chips for lunch.
Christina said: “It was fantastic to see so many parishes come together for this event. In particular, I loved seeing connections being made between young people and leaders, and everyone having fun!
“The young people were fantastic at the various activities and really challenged themselves. We were disappointed to cancel the residential weekend, but delighted that we could still get together in a safe way.”
Christina said the Youth Council looked forward to organising more diocesan youth events in the coming months.
Youth ministry during the pandemic
The Covid-19 restrictions have impacted every age group and level of society, not least our young people, for whom socialisation, physical activity and sharing are vital for mental health.
The annual events which brought young people from parishes across Connor Diocese were cancelled during 2020, and this continues into 2021 as restrictions remain in place.
At a time when young people have been deprived of even time spent with friends at school, Connor Youth Officer Christina Bailie and the youth council have been prolific in producing resources to support them, reduce their isolation, and help them stay connected with their Church.
These include Shaken, which helps young people to consider how they can respond to difficulties they face in life from a Christian perspective; and Right Now, a resource for leaders to use with their young people. In this, leaders, clergy and young people share about their faith during this time.
The council also launched Celebrate, an initiative to celebrate and encourage those doing youth ministry across the diocese, including volunteers, uniformed organisation leaders and clergy.
Connor Youth Council came up with a series of challenges to keep young people busy during the coronavirus lockdown, sharing comprehensive resources for Advent and Easter. Online events include a Games Night and a Worship Night (taking place on March 12).
While the annual Summer Madness Camp, Streetreach and Connor Takes the Castle Weekend had to be cancelled in person, these went ahead online. The virtual Summer Madness Bishop’s BBQ proved a big hit, and young people from 12 different parishes enjoyed tuning in to Streetreach Online in July!
Christina explained: “We tried to replicate the essence of Streetreach with teaching, activity and sharing together. All the ideas for activity could be done by individuals in their own home and on their own which made it accessible to everyone!”
As summer 2020 turned into autumn and restrictions remained in place, Christina produced Possible, a series of videos sharing stories of good practice of churches engaging with people in Covid safe way across the diocese.