They are all full days and differ in approach and style. From a student’s perspective, the Christianity days are similar to a standard school day, in so far as they have a number of lessons on various topics, whereas the retreat days are very different: often they are off timetable, can dress down and are not located at school. The style of learning is also different and tends to have a mix of ‘thinking’, ‘being’ and ‘doing’. This works well, because some students respond better to some styles of learning than others; for instance, children who find it a challenge to sit still and think, very often rise to the challenge of making something in pottery.
I think one of the reasons why retreats work so well is that they break from their normal routine, and with fewer teachers around, things are slightly more relaxed. But, more than that, the day is a chance to step back and get a different perspective on life; too often we are so focused on the next task, the next lesson, the next exam, that we forget to look up and check that we are travelling in the right direction, or maybe even to stop and think, “Which direction should I be going in?”
Having a whole day to do this helps, as those thoughts have a chance to seep into the soul; and as Step workers/volunteers, it also gives us a chance to build up a rapport with some students, which can lead on to meaningful conversations, which they wouldn’t ordinarily have.
There’s great benefit in taking time out and reflecting on life; allowing God to whisper in to our soul; it’s a blessing for students, for teachers and us.
Retreats allow students to take a step back from normal day to day life at school and reflect on important themes in a supportive and fun environment. Almost without exception the students speak highly of their experience - Barry O’Sullivan (Chaplain and RE teacher)
Graeme is a very committed volunteer, engaging in 122 activities in schools so far this academic year (September to May). If you would like to be involved in tip Days or other aspects of Step’s work, please contact Terrie.