Volunteering with Urban Saints

Summer is a time where everyone operates a different schedule in someway. For some that might mean juggling work and childcare, whether at home or in the office. Other’s the tiring nature of providing various types of entertainment for children. Plus holidays, camping, trips away, or whatever else takes your fancy. My summers involve all of the above, but for the past 13 years I have also been involved volunteering with Urban Saints.

White bell tents in a field surrounded by trees. Cloudy sky with sun rising.
A dawn picture. The day begins early on camp!

Urban Saints is a charity, where at it’s heart is discipling young people to experience a real relationship with Jesus. They do this through supporting groups, creating resources, providing training and running camps. As a teenager my summers were filled with Urban Saints camps (formerly called Crusaders) where I have memories full of fun, friendships, crazy games, amazing landscapes and excellent teaching about how we can learn more about Jesus.

The camps I attended were at a very special campsite in Studland, Dorset. With Old Harry rocks right on the corner, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and sandy beaches down a leafy tunneled track, which also loved to get very muddy! From my late teens I was super keen to go back to the campsite that shared so much time and memories with me and help offer a chance for other young people to experience what I did. 2009, I finally made that happen and began volunteering with Urban Saints. Since then it’s been a permanent fixture in my summer since. It’s also where I met my husband!

Man sat on chair filling up water balloons from tap. Children watching.
Filling up water balloons. A fairly big feature on any Purbeck Venture camp! Little people like to help with that!

So what is it and what do I do?

This Studland site is now filled with opportunities for both children and young people to engage with a fantastic holiday where they get to make memories and learn more about Jesus. I am now part of the core team that put together the Purbeck Venture Camp. This is for 11-16 year olds and runs for 8 jam-packed days in August. I’m not going give away any specifics that will be happening on camp this year, but coming out of two very different previous years, the team are keen to come back with a bang!

We camp in bell tents in a field and have marquees for eating and meeting in. The only fixed building onsite is the cook house and toilets. When I went as a camper (many moons ago!) There were only outdoor showers where the cows would stare at us. Now there is the luxury of cubicled hot showers and a dishwasher to help with the aftermath of mealtimes!

This volunteering with Urban Saints role runs alongside my UC Grace commitments and other areas that I volunteer with. This year I have a different role to normal and have been given the opportunity to be Chaplain alongside someone else for the duration of the camp. A camp Chaplain essentially helps deliver the main Christian input for camp in the form of evening or morning talks. Tent Officers then outwork what you share with their tents. Everyone chips in, in some form.

I’ve waited rather patiently for this role, usually we have small people in tow in some form at the camp. So the reality of doing some roles logistically doesn’t work, this year there are no small people, not even a husband! Which has meant that I have the space and time to be on camp and support it in a new way. I’m really excited to see how God will use me and just need to get on and write some talks!

Sunset over studland bay from Old Harry Rocks walk.
Just one of the amazing sunsets viewed on the walk to Old Harry Rocks.

UC Grace Summer 2022

Whilst normally I juggle any role I have on camp with UC Grace and other commitments, there are other things to juggle this year. Which means that for UC Grace I will be operating at reduced capacity. So I have space and time to focus and prep as needed.

I will still be around but I might not be as quick to respond to messages and email. Please feel free to call me if you need to talk through anything or need a quicker answer from me.

Additionally – 

  • There are no in person workshops. But there is an online one after camp on the 23rd :-). You can book here.
  • Community Membership online schedule have alternative options.
  • There are no Scripture Encouragements being sent out. First one will resume September 12th in a new format!
  • There will be no Monthly Nugget with Anna. Next one is 13th September.

The heart of UC Grace is supporting others to grow, sometimes using the tools of dance and movement, other times not. Volunteering with Urban Saints and with other charities helps me to continue to outwork that ethos. Giving space and opportunity for God to work in others and helping guide, as needed, for that to happen.

Please be praying for this summer and all thats ahead!

Big marquees half finished with posts showing.
All camps require a set up and pack down. These are some of the marquees getting ready to receive young people!

If you pray, we’d love the following things covered:

  • Purbeck Venture runs 12th – 20th August with the leaders arriving on the 11th for preparation.
  • Planning and delivery for camp chaplains, Sam and myself. We’re obedient to what God wants us to share and will equip us with the time to plan and confidence to deliver.
  • Travel for young people and families as they arrive at camp.
  • Leaders – old and new – for cohesion with the team, confidence and willingness to share Jesus with young people.
  • For the young people coming which may already be struggling with things. May the camp be a safe space to share and just be.
  • For Matt and Catherine Rowe, the main camp leaders and Hannah and Jess who are the organisers of all things fun and crazy whilst camp runs.

You can find out more about Urban Saints here and the Purbeck Venture camp I am involved in here.

The art of putting up or taking down a marquee takes a lot of effort. You can see the marks on the ground that this is the end of camp.

Getting closer to Jesus – Hebrews 12. 1-2 Running the race getting close to Jesus

Getting closer to Jesus is always at the forefront of my mind, scripture allows us to do that very thing. During a recent Prayer Dance Bite session we dug deep into Hebrews 12. 1 – 2 getting closer to Jesus by exploring running the race for Jesus, choosing to step out and move through things that might be slowing us down or we need perseverance for. Often we reach those points where there is something in between where we want to go and the only way to get through is to have grit and resilience.

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Hebrews 12.1-2

Pausing in worship dance on knees getting closer to Jesus.
Worship dancer lying face down on the ground getting closer to God.

You are surrounded by witnesses

Day to day we find ourselves surrounded by people who we can witness to, who we can share in some form about our faith. That might be a worship dance, it might be prayer, being open to sharing you’ve been to church, telling someone that you are praying for them. Opportunities are all around us, but it can be hard to step up and step out. Is there one person or situation you won’t/ can’t/ shy away from to share your faith?

Write it down, make a note. God’s desire is for us to share our joy, our joy in choosing him and the fun and laughter that brings, even if there are times when life is tough and you don’t like what’s been put before you, there is always a way of getting closer to Jesus.

Are you ready to run? What do you need to run well?

This question prompted lots of chuckles during the prayer dance bite session, with some ladies explaining how running was not for them. But what did come out of our discussion was that if you are runner, it’s all about the shoes and the place your head is in. To make the running more comfortable a solid shoe with ‘bounce’ will help cushion and protect your knees as you move. In our faith we can lean into Gods word, putting on the armour of God – shoes fitted ready with the gospel of peace – so we can be equipped to move forward (or run!).

In any race there is always a finish a line, or a point which you are striving for. As Christians our eyes are fixed on Jesus to help us run the race, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle with all the bits in between! What do you need perseverance for at the moment? What might you need to push through and see that you are getting closer to Jesus? Write it down.

Worship dancers jumping across the space, or resting and receiving getting closer to God.

Getting closer to Jesus by running your race

As movers and dancers we deepen our faith in a visual way. Here is a visual way I encouraged the Prayer Dance Bite participants to challenge themselves to persevere and move forward with their race.

  • Visually mark points A and B in your mind or on the floor – a space that you need to move from one place to another.
  • The space between the two points is the thing that you want to persevere through
  • Close your eyes
  • How do you get ready to move? How can you cross the space? Begin exploring.
  • Waiting at the other side is Jesus. Cheering you on, His eyes are on you, He has faith in you, and He knows that you can do it. Fix your eyes on that and see how you cross the space.

All aspects of life take perseverance at some point, we will always feel our emotions take over and lead but, but pausing to see that Jesus is cheering you on through whatever it is makes us stronger and push us to keep going, seeking, resulting in us continually getting closer to Jesus.

New people are always welcome in our Prayer Dance Bite sessions. You can find out more about them here.