Sam, 18, has attended Kestrels, an SU sailing holiday, for the last three years. Normally they would be sailing on the Norfolk Broads, but this year things were different as the holiday went online.
"I was cautious, even sceptical, when I first heard that we’d be doing Kestrels online, but it was surprisingly effective – so positive and helpful at a time when we all really needed that emotional and spiritual support."
I grew up in the church, but, as my parents are church leaders, I started going to a different church from them about four years ago so that I could develop my own faith in God.
On Kestrels, I’m away from my parents and church, and it gives me the space and independence to get a different perspective. We have lots of deep discussions, but we love and respect each other and don’t argue! It’s helped me develop my own views and my own perspective.
Kestrels has really helped to grow and strengthen my faith
When you spend eight hours a day with the same people on a boat for a week, you start opening up about what’s bothering you, asking really deep questions and being really honest with each other.
When I first heard that we would be doing Kestrels online, I was cautious, even sceptical. I thought the prayer groups would be more rigid and the Bible studies would be less cosy than they normally are. But, as we are so close, it went really,really well, despite us being on different sides of the country. It was so positive and helpful at a time when we all really needed that emotional and spiritual support.
During the week, one of the team would lead the Bible study, give a talk of 5–10 minutes, and lead in prayer. Then we would break out into small groups of around four young people (crew) and two adults (team) to discuss in more depth.
I was blown away by what it meant on a faith level. It was certainly a reminder that God still finds ways to connect with us even with all the limitations we’re currently facing because of COVID-19.
My week at Kestrels this year was even more precious. I should have been sitting my A levels this year, but because of COVID-19 I will be assessed and graded in a different way – it’s all a bit weird. I feel very close to the Kestrels group and during the holiday I was really encouraged by the mental and spiritual support we were able to give each other.
I’ve been going on SU holidays since I was eight and they have been a real anchor in my faith – they hold me together spiritually.
"I seriously don’t know whether I’d have a faith anymore if I hadn’t been coming on SU holidays."
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