Back in April, Bake Off, one of our baking-themed holidays, became the very first SU ‘holiday at home’ during the coronavirus lockdown. Instead of gathering together to spend a week baking and exploring the Bible, 11 children and 5 volunteer leaders donned their aprons, prepared their ingredients and 'met' online. Jo Morley, SU's Head of Mission Events, and one of Bake Off's leaders, reflects on this new experience…
'We only had a few weeks to get everything ready', says Jo 'And that really wasn't long for something we'd never done before. But we did it and I'm pleased to say it was a success! Of course, the children were disappointed that they couldn't meet together physically, but overall they loved the experience. It gave them something to do whilst forced to stay at home over Easter, they were able to chat with the other children and leaders, and, most importantly, they got to dig into God's Word every day. We worked hard to ensure it was as close to the proper SU holiday experience as we could make it.'
Ready, steady, bake…
'A few days before the holiday began, we sent out the holiday booklet containing safety information, full recipe details and equipment lists, and some Bible thoughts. We also sent out the preliminary video, which was an introduction to the holiday and a safety briefing.
During the week of the holiday itself, the children were encouraged to go online each morning to watch that day's demonstration video, ahead of an altogether video conference baking session in the afternoon. We were going to get the children to watch sections of the video as they baked along but we found it easier if they'd watched the video in preparation first. This actually mirrored what would happen on a physical holiday, when they watch the leader demo-ing the recipe before they then bake it themselves, so it worked really well and the children seemed to love it.
Baking with the Bible
As always, the holiday was about fun and Bible exploration in equal measure, so finding ways to bring in the spiritual side of things was really important. After a bit of experimentation, we settled on the approach that seemed to work the best.
Before each baking session, the leaders identified where there was likely to be a space with little baking activity happening, when something was in the oven, for example, or at times when the young people were doing something repetitive like stirring custard (or sticking marshmallows on sheep!).
During those times, a leader would remind the children of what we had thought about the previous day and share a part of their story that related to this. Another leader would then deliver the Bible thought, including reading from the Bible. We didn’t ask the young people to read along at the time because this was likely to be messy and distracting, but we did encourage them to look at the passages later and to ponder them. After that, we screen shared a music video with a reflective song that linked to the thought and asked them just to reflect while this was playing. We also encouraged them to write or draw any thoughts that they had on their recipe books and offered the opportunity to share these via the online chat if they wanted to.
How did it go?
There were a few technical hiccups, as you’d expect, but overall, it went surprisingly well. At the time there was little feedback from the children, perhaps because they didn't feel it easy to share in this format, but the feedback we received at the end of the holiday was very encouraging. Everyone said that the Bible times and leader stories were valuable. Here are just a few of the comments we received:
"I liked the songs which accompanied the thoughts to ponder."
"It was good to be able to think for a moment and take a break from baking."
"I found the talks really inspiring."
"I liked the variety of 'talk' – testimonies, baking stories, general chit chat, etc. Lovely to have such immediate responses to comments and pictures in the Chat. It kept it very interactive."
And, my favourite comment of all:
"I will pray and turn to God more."
A holiday online will never be quite the same as a physical SU holiday experience, but I'm so pleased with the way Bake Off went, especially as it was our first foray into this kind of thing. With Bake Off under our belt, work is now underway to bring a good number of our summer holidays and missions online. Thank you for all your prayers and financial support that continue to make this all possible. Look out for our SUmmer online programme and join us in prayer for the children who attended Bake Off, and for all those we hope to 'see' this summer.
We may have had to cancel our usual programme of holidays and missions this summer, but we're delighted to be able to bring you SUmmer Online instead! Many of our events are now taking place digitally over July and August, so take a look below and book your children in now to avoid disappointment. All our SUmmer Online events are provided free, to ensure as many children and young people as possible can benefit from an SU experience.
- Holidays & Missions