Summer camp

Easton CE VA Primary School
Jane Gillis, school community worker
Christ Church Clifton, Bristol City

Easton Primary is in a deprived inner-city area with a high percentage of non-Christian immigrants. Working with the local church, Jane facilitates a summer holiday for children who would otherwise miss out.

Janes home church has a link with Easton Christian Family Centre and so she works together with the team there. For the last few years they have taken children from disadvantaged backgrounds to Falcon Camp, part of the Ventures initiative overseen by the Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS). Teachers at the school work with those at the church to choose about 25 children aged 7 to 11. Although the camps are already very affordable, some families cannot afford the price and so local fundraising enables some provision.

In this context many of the children are Muslim so the workers have to be very up-front with parent about that fact that the camps have content on spiritual development and that Christian ideas are discussed. The approach taken by Jane and the team is to make sure that the spiritual teaching is based on dialogue that it is ok to have different views and to explore these views together. They see forcing ideas as going against their trust in the work of the Holy Spirit.

Older children who have been to Falcon Camp in the past are still seeking engagement with the team, and therefore another older camp has been set up for these young people. A team of forty people drawn from five local churches intends to bless these children throughout the year, by gathering them for various events. They are united by a mission to journey with children aged 7 to 16 years, wanting to make a difference to their lives, exciting children about their potential.

Church@4 is a fresh expression of church that has started in 2013. It runs on the school grounds once a month on a Sunday afternoon. There is a fire, games, hospitality and spiritual discussion. Because of the multicultural setting, this fresh expression of church is trying hard to be welcoming and accessible to people of other world views. Many of the Falcon Camp children and some parents/carers have been coming to Church@4.