Things have gone quiet around the office the last few days – that must mean its the summer holidays!
I can still remember when I started at The Door (at the start of July 2009) I thought that this place would be like everywhere else during the summer – closed. How wrong I was! Very quickly I understood why my new job started in July, whilst most youthwork jobs started in September.
We’ve coined a phrase which goes “Whilst everyone else is closing down, The Door is ramping up for the summer.” You see here we recognise that the summer holidays are a time when young people often need us the most. Without the stability of school-life, and with parents out at work all day, being a young person during August can be boring. Despite having longed for the end of school and the start of the holidays just a week or two ago, come the end of July most teenagers are starting to discover that having nothing to do is pretty pointless. There’s only so much Jeremy Kyle anyone can stomach. Without anything constructive to do, young people tend to follow one of two routes: Hibernation or Exploration.
Hibernation – this is the route I recall my teenage self took. It ushered in 4 or 5 weeks (family holiday aside) of sleeping all morning, watching TV or playing computer games all afternoon, and generally avoiding my parents all evening. Once they’d gone to bed I’d be back in front of the TV. It seems harmless enough, but it did little for my social skills, and even less for my mental health. The addition of a girlfriend into the mixture around age 16 did little to change things – we simply did the above but as a pair.
Exploration – although the day tends to start out the same (in bed) this route take the young person out of the house and into the local town/city/park/field. There they meet up with other explorers and spend their afternoon and evening looking for things to do. Whilst many of these activities can be broadly described as ‘anti-social’, many are simply inane (wandering around the shops, staring into space, sitting in the park)
In order to overcome both of these, The Door seeks to find exciting, educational and expressive activities to fill the holidays. This starts with our Stroud based centre opening at 1pm, and continues with a programme of games, crafts, cooking, job and education advice and our legendary #DoorOnTour trips. Underneath all of that is the heart and desire of the team to spend time with young people, making sure that they can talk through how they feel, what they think about life, and where they might be heading.
As I learnt 6 years ago, summers in Stroud are hard work as a youthworker. Whilst others are taking a break, camping at Soul Survivor, or spending time with their families, our team is giving more. Its a part of living a Christ-like attitude, a willingness to serve others the way that Jesus served – unconditionally.
Did I mention it was quiet in the office? That’s because the phone doesn’t ring so much, because other people are on holiday. Its not so quiet in The Drop-In, because we’re not.