A significant part of my own discipleship and ministry journey has been shaped by my involvement in camps and beach missions. The impact that these temporary Christian communities can have for good is amazing. For me I was encouraged and challenged in my faith, I learnt to work in a team, I learnt leadership skills, and I learnt how to work with large and small groups of young people, I learnt about building culture, and I learnt about forgiveness and patience, the privilege of journeying even if only for a little while with people young and old, through joy and loss. I was always amazed at how quickly trust is built and how quickly your felt comfortable and safe to share things that really mattered. Years later I find myself again in temporary perhaps more semi-permanent community within the Boarding House at my school. The home away from home. Life in a Boarding House can be one full of adventure and challenge. It is a space where students are forced to live together from different backgrounds, family experiences, ages, cultures, it is a place where learning to live with difference is essential. It’s a unique partnership with parents and families that is education and more. A lot of trust exists in a Boarding House and again doing life together, for a lot longer than a camp or beach mission, means that you journey with students through everything, you are part of their home away from home. They can be amazing places.
During the last week of school, I got the opportunity to attend part of the Australian Boarding School Association Conference in Hobart. A great conference with quality speakers and a chance to meet amazing people working in our Boarding Schools both here in Australia and overseas. All working hard to create safe places for their students to live and flourish, and it’s had work.
I thought I’d write about it this month in that has provided a unique opportunity for me and my role as Chaplain. When you work in a Boarding House, the Boarders see you maybe at your best, but definitely at your not so best. They see you at the end of a long day, they see you through all the ups and downs, and they experience your care and support through it all. They hold you accountable to things said in Chapel, and they ask questions of you, no doubt reporting back to the student body your answer, and so they provide a unique missional opportunity. Many of us are connected with the Boarding Houses in our schools, we run services for the Boarding House we support through pastoral care, and perhaps some of us, like me, may have more formal roles. It is just another way that we can journey alongside our students, staff and their families, and as the end of the year is quickly approaching, they are another part of our schools that we can be praying for.
Pray for our Boarders, especially being away from home for such a long period of time, and especially our year 11s and 12s as they head toward end of year exams. Pray for those who find it hard to return home, and for those who find it hard to be away from home.
Pray for the Staff, giving thanks for their care and tireless concern for our Boarders, for their fun and their listening ears that makes each Boarding House a home away from home.
And pray for our Directors of Boarding as they lead a complex environment. Pray for them as they work with Staff, Parents, and Boarders. Pray for patience and wisdom as they work to build safe communities where students can flourish.