April 11th to 13th 2014 Gordon Lambie, Baby Beatrice and I travelled across the province of Quebec to the small and isolated communities of Chevery and Harrington Harbour on the lower north shore of the St. Lawrence River. We travelled to lead and participate in a youth animation weekend at the school in Chevery.
The weekend was well attended, with 15 young people aged 13-17 in attendance. There was a good balance of young men and women, and while the majority of youth were in secondary 3 (grade 9) there was also a good mix of ages.
The theme of our weekend was “Home”. We developed several different key questions over the weekend:
• What makes a good leader?
• What is home?
• What qualities are present in a strong community?
• And finally, “If you could change one thing about your community what would it be?
On Friday night we did group building activities, learned names and broke the ice. After getting to know each other a bit we worked on doing a Myers Briggs personality quiz and activity. Following this, we began the process of creating plaster masks that would represent our personal characteristics. In pairs the young people made plaster castings of their faces. It was a fun hands on art activity, as well as good trust game as well! Before bed we watched the animated Tim Burton film “9”.
Saturday morning we discussed our first question: What makes a good leader. We discussed the film 9, which clearly shows good and bad leadership. After our discussion we worked on two different service projects for the Chevery Come Home Year celebrations. We made banners to hang on the telephone poles, as well as wooden candle holders for the memorial service altar. It was an important application of the leadership skills we discussed and were developing for the young people to be engaged in making something to better their communities. Throughout the day the youth also worked on painting their masks, the outside being how people perceive them and the inside being more of personal reflection on their personalities. In the evening we did more leadership and group building activities, including a game called stepping stones which requires creativity and team work. The young people then tackled the question: “If you could change one thing about your community what would it be?” There were lots of concerns, completing the road, improving retail services and internet access. We concluded our formal programming with a short worship service where the youth shared in communion, sang and shared their prayers of concern and thanksgiving. The day was finished with more movie watching, this time “Dangerous Minds” and “Rise of the Guardians”.
Sunday we put our thoughts into action and wrote a letter to local politicians explaining the need for improved access to high speed internet. The young people wrote the letter collectively and penned it on a large flipchart paper. Afterwards we travelled to the local United Church and enjoyed Sunday worship with the community. The message was on home, and connected with the story of the prodigal son.
Over all the weekend went well. There were no issues or hiccups from the youth. Certain activities could have gone better, perhaps the personality quiz was a bit long and dull, and more games could have filled that time more successfully. It was really meaningful to work on the service projects and to collectively write the letter to the local politicians. Worship was simple but meaningful. It was a tremendous learning experience for me and Gordon. We really got to see and learn about the communities on the coast and understand a bit better what it is like to live there. The people of those communities are hardworking and generous. I have never met such gracious and polite youth! I felt welcomed and very much at home. I simply hope that the youth got as much out of their experience as Gordon and I did.