Tales of surf camp again…

It’s a sleepy 30-something that types to you tonight, as the rain that has been strangely rare this past month thunders down onto the roof. Why the tiredness? Well spending 7 days sharing tight quarters with 3 of your fellow youth leaders and walls so thin you can hear the trumpet sound of a leader that had seconds on Taco Tuesday at Midnight and the giggles and not so quiet whispers of campers on the other side can make you a little sleep deprived.

Actually this year I think may have been the best yet. I was nervous going in, as last year hadn’t been easy. I came home from surf camp with an unease and found it difficult to answer the question ‘How did surf camp go?’ because yes I knew God had showed up, yes I knew that campers had fun but yet there had just been so many frustrations and things that made me feel totally inadequate and I left thinking that maybe I didn’t need be doing this anymore because I had nothing to bring of value.

There was a peace this year that I can’t recall there ever being before. Not that every year before has been awful or totally chaotic. But I think that over the years we’ve learned a lot and we have always wanted to be intentional about creating a week that is more relaxed as well as being action packed. There was a community and any time a camper tried to do anything that threatened that peace, I saw our veteran campers stepping up and showing the way of the culture we’ve done our best to create over the last 5 years. A culture of family. A culture of inclusion. A culture of respect. A culture where it’s a safe place to try and fail, and try again.

I also got to try something that I’m not sure worked, but it has made me want to blog more. Every morning at breakfast, I got to share ‘a thought for the day’. I definitely took inspiration from Miss Val and my old ‘Quote of the Week’ posts many of my social media pals used to tell me they liked but fell by the way side when I got seriously depressed a couple of years ago. I really wish I was one of those people that found creativity through their depression, but honestly? Depression just made me numb, unmotivated and stop writing every time I got to my keyboard. My mind would go blank and my brain would tell me there was no point anyway.

My car became a little sanctuary this year too. We didn’t have enough space in the minibus for all the campers to be transported at once, so each day 3-4 campers were transported in the Lavamobile to and from the surf lessons and trips offsite. It became a little collective of campers who found the minibus a little noisy and would come in with requests of whether we played The Greatest Showman soundtrack or my Disney playlist. It was where one camper who was starting to struggle with the intensity of living with 44 other people came to get space and came out of their shell as the debate began about everyone’s favourite (and least favourite) Disney songs and films. It gave me fond memories of all the transport and conversations that Cassie the Corsa provided back in the day.

I feel weirdly motivated and refreshed while simultaneously feeling totally wiped out since coming back. I dug into my bible this year more than ever before as I got challenged by campers who asked me questions about it. I scribbled in my journal more copying down thoughts and nuggets of wisdom from people far wiser than I.

And so let’s keep on keeping on.

And be glad of the sand, grass and mud that covers my car (and find a valet service, I think the clean up requires a professional with professional tools!)


Q Commons Edinburgh

I have this strange relationship with faith, my values, secular and church culture. They seem to be constantly dancing around the same dance floor, and I’m still trying to work out if they can be in one dance together. I am a community developer. I realise now that I always have been, the desire to build community seems to be innate in me (is it the same for everyone? I don’t know). And of course now I study it at one of the world’s oldest universities with a whole bunch of people who challenge, encourage, agree and disagree with each other.

For years I went to Christian conferences feeling like I was being preached to. When my friends travelled to Q – a conference held in the USA every Spring, they came back inspired. They told me stories of people who weren’t just preaching dos and donts but sharing journeys and ideas. It wasn’t about telling people what to do. And it had me intrigued. Like maybe this was a conference run by Christians that I would feel welcomed at. It was about putting forth an idea, or sharing a tale of ‘good practice’, or sharing the story of a journey so far. And then it was about letting it simmer…amongst the delegates over coffees (or wines) and meals, amongst their friends when they came home. Pondering questions – how to we take those ideas and put them into practice for the common good of our communities? What would that look like? What would be the process to make that happen in our local context? What do we define as the common good in the first place?

Q Commons has given the chance for more community leaders to experience this type of discussion and idea sharing, as it hosts three live 9 minute talks that are beamed out to every event across the world, and then at each event has three local speakers giving 9 minute talks. There is a chance to network, and a chance to discuss. It is not a ‘this is how you should think’. It’s about posing questions and together coming up with possible solutions that may bring equality and justice into our locale. And then going forth into action with our communities.

And so if you’re in Edinburgh, you might be interested in this event. Tickets are limited, as the Q Commons events are deliberately kept intimate and intentional so that those attending can get the most out of not just listening to talks, but the conversations they have with the people at their tables in between.

Q main speakers will be:

Malcolm Gladwell – bestselling author and journalist

Soledad O’Brien – broadcast journalist

Mark Burnett – TV Producer & CEO 

Q Commons Edinburgh local speakers will be:

Phillip Benton ( talking about living spaces for justice)

Keith Millar (talking about education and redemption for children who have been excluded from mainstream school education)

Heather McGibbon (talking about talking about a movement to get a place of sanctuary for Syrian refugees in Edinburgh )

If you are interested in coming to the Edinburgh event, which will be held on Friday 27th February from 7-9 p.m. at Central Hall, West Tollcross. The venue is wheelchair accessible, with a lift at the side of the building which brings you into the main floor where the Q event is held. Tickets are £19.10 each (with a small discount for married couples wishing to attend together) and you can book by going to the Q Commons Edinburgh website. It is an e-ticket, so please be aware all the information will be sent to you electronically not by post.

And if you are elsewhere in the world you can find out if there is going to be an event on the 26th or 27th Feb (depending on time zones) in your area by clicking here.

Maybe see you there? 🙂

Why do we gossip?

You had to know (if you know me) that I would share a SoulPancake find within the first week of this new blog. And this one is on a topic I can have a lot of rants about. Gossip.

Why do we gossip?

From the people in this video, it seems that the conclusion is we gossip when we feel insecure, when we want the attention away from ourselves.

There is a point where Jesus talks about why we shouldn’t judge others and he tells the people with him at the time “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

I know I’ve gossiped. I hate it. It’s something I try not to do, and I do try and make an active effort when conversations turn into gossip to try and divert the conversation to another topic or stop it completely. The speculation. The judging.


The worst thing when people are not just telling me something that happened but putting an extra bit on it or how terrible someone is or what they think is going on – is wondering…what is that person saying about me when I leave the room?

It doesn’t build up trust or friendship.

So let’s end the culture and share stories that we have the blessing to share, and not buy the types of media that are damaging people (because yes, actors, musicians and even *gasp* politicians are people too). My rule is if I wouldn’t talk about it in front of the person who is the topic of conversation it should not be coming out my mouth.

There’s only one exception: and that is planning fun surprises!!

Why do you think we gossip, and what positive alternatives can we put into action to grow a culture that is different from the gossip culture?