29 June 2011

X-treme Camps - The problem

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It's time to write about X-treme Camps again. This year's camp takes place at the end of July; although I'm only slightly involved this time I sense that Father wants me to write down some of the early history and review progress so far.

The first camp involving young people from St Neots was in July 2009 and this year's will be the third. But the story begins back in the summer of 2008 when I read an article in a local newspaper, the Hunts Post.

Local press articleThe article is no longer on the paper's website, but the gist of it was this. A couple in their thirties living in Mallard Lane in Eynesbury had been attacked by youths ranging in age from eleven to eighteen or so. Let's call them Joanne and David (not their real names).

Jo had become ill and needed a wheelchair. Dave had given up his job in order to become her full-time carer, and they were regularly seen in the area between their home and the town centre shops. They were good, friendly people struggling with a distressing problem and coping with serious difficulties.

The trouble began with name calling; a group of youngsters shouted out that Jo was a 'lazy cow' because she was in the wheelchair. At first, Dave had tried to talk to them and explain, but that only seemed to offend them and make matters worse. After a while the name calling developed into something more serious. The group began throwing stones at the house, hitting the front door and windows. The stones grew in size until one night a brick came through the front window and landed inside the house. Although the window was soon replaced it was broken again just a week later and in desperation Dave reported this to the police. The problem just got worse and worse.

The press came round to interview Jo and Dave, the story appeared in the paper, and I read it. Here's what I wrote in response at the time.

I simply couldn't leave things like this. I wrote an unsealed letter to Jo and Dave and asked the local police to pass it to them. A few days later Dave phoned me and we had a good chat, I stressed that I wanted to do whatever I could to help. Dave explained that they were about to be moved into housing in another town and I told him that I would pray for him and for Jo and that I would see if there was any way of engaging young people in the area in more useful and less destructive ways. I've lost contact with them since they moved away.

Now, I am not a youth worker and would be hopeless at engaging youngsters in anything. All I could do initially was pray and expect Jesus to show me what to do. Imagine my astonishment when he answered that prayer in a way that demonstrated he had it all planned out from the beginning.

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