Below is a write-up of the annual retreat to Castlerigg Manor written up by one of our Impact group members.
Friday 19th October 2018
On Friday, we got picked up from Our Lady’s St Edward’s Parish Hall, Preston and we set off on our journey to Castlerigg Manor, Keswick. Upon arrival at Keswick, at 7:15pm, we were given our room numbers and were told the emergency procedures and then we went and got settled into our rooms. We had a bit of spare time before we went in for a buffet meal at 7:45pm which Castlerigg had kindly made for us. It was lovely and once we had finished, we had some time to ourselves before we met in the Main Lounge. We met at 9pm and we discussed the theme for the weekend, ‘SHARING VOICES’. We heard from Terry, Father Mark and Lou who told us about the Youth Achievement Award we could complete over the weekend. Afterwards, we had some social time where we could chat, play table tennis and chill. 11pm was reflection in the chapel which was beautifully led by Lydia and Niamh. Their chosen theme was confusion as it was a relatable topic for the majority of people there and we could have our own thoughts and feelings about the topic. They included music, discussion and allowed time for our own private thoughts which was a great way to get us involved and think about our own lives. This was one of the best reflections I had been in so I’d like to say thank you to Lydia and Niamh for delivering that to us.
Saturday 20th October
Saturday soon arrived and by 8:15am, everyone was awoken by the music playing outside of our rooms and at 8:45, we met in the Dining Hall for breakfast. Breakfast was a combination of toast, porridge and cereal and everyone seemed to be fairly awake which was quite surprising! We started our morning in the same way we ended it on Friday night, with reflection. We discussed the Friday night and what we were hoping for in the weekend ahead of us. We had got into small groups and made a list of five things that each group wanted to achieve or wanted to stick to over the weekend and of course the most important one was to have fun!
The first workshop was led by Lydia and Niamh. They started off by playing a game called ‘the sun shines on’ which was a great introduction as it woke people up a bit and got people ready for the rest of their workshop. The game went down really well and they followed it by going around and everyone introduced themselves and said either a song or a film that described them. We learnt everyone’s names and this was a good way to get to know people a bit better. The next part of their workshop, again, involved getting to know one another better. We each got handed a piece of paper and we had to write down 5 things that described our personality or the things we liked, without giving away our physical appearance. These then all got muddled up and we got someone else’s given back to us. Going around the circle, we read them out and we had to guess who we think it was about. Some of them we got right and some we didn’t which meant we had learnt something new about someone in the group. To end their workshop, we did a debate. This debate was about whether education is really that important. People sat at different sides of the rooms and we had a debate about what was more important. This linked in really well with the theme of ‘SHARING VOICES’ and was really brilliant to see everyone getting involved and voicing their opinions.
The first workshop was followed by social time for half an hour and then Bismah and Maisie led their workshop. The girls had the theme of ‘mental health and wellbeing’ which is something they feel strongly about and are involved in with Terry. The name of their project is ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and they began by telling us what mental health is and how it links in with ‘SHARING VOICES’. They said that by raising awareness, it helps people to be heard and reach out to get help and support and it makes mental health to be easier to talk about. Together, they had put together a questionnaire that they wanted us to fill in about wellbeing and the support we get in/from school. This was completely anonymous and 100% independent. This was fantastic as it gave us the chance to be honest, say what we really think and to have our own personal thoughts and feelings on the topic. This was then collected in and we got back into our groups and we wrote down what wellbeing is, what we think of wellbeing and how we can raise awareness about it. We all came back together and Bismah wrote down on an A3 page all the ideas we had to offer. To conclude, we watched a touching video about anti-bullying and suicide. We discussed the video and how we can be a life-saver by simply being kind to others. This was an absolutely wonderful workshop and I think that a lot of people really absorbed the information and have taken a lot away with them around the theme of mental health and wellbeing. I’d like to thank Bismah and Maisie for trying to make a difference and for allowing us to have our say in the support given from schools.
Lunch followed soon after the workshop ended. Castlerigg had prepared delicious chicken burgers for us. Soon after lunch, we all got our coats and some of us went on a walk outside before we all set off into Keswick town. We went off with our own friendship groups and from what I heard, everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and everybody came back buzzing with huge smiles and plenty of bags!
Father Mark came in and we discussed in our groups some prayers for mass. Nathan’s group were given the theme of thanking God, Andy’s group were given the theme of saying sorry to God and finally, Anna’s group were given the theme of asking God. In our groups, we had to write prayers underneath those themes and we would offer them up to God in the Chapel. We then went into mass where Father Mark led a lovely mass including the consumption of the Eucharist and again, we had time for personal thought. We each were given a small crucifix to walk up, one by one, and place next to the big crucifix in front of the altar. Our group prayers were offered up at different parts of the service and we had the chance to light a candle and place them around the crucifixes and we remembered someone close to us, whom we loved.
After the service had ended, we had our evening meal of fish, chips and peas and then we had a little bit of free time. Free time didn’t last too long as we had a fantastic Arts workshop lined up with Lou. There were tonnes of materials, accessories and of course, ideas, of what we could make. We gathered the materials we needed and set off to our own places around the room and made whatever creation we wanted to make. There were materials for everything! People had made joy jars, paintings, inspiration boards and so much more! Everybody had brought their creativity with them!! Thanks to Lou for such a free workshop which allowed us to be independent and not have to follow set instructions like we do most of the time.
At 9:30, we had a disco in the Games Room and social time (or as Terry liked to call it, ‘social tim’) until 10:45. This was the point where people began to interact and become bonded with those who they didn’t know before. Whilst all the partying and socialising was going on, there were also interviews undergoing with myself, (Hallie) and Tom. Their interviews were being recorded on the voice recorder and many questions were being asked to all the young people about various topics and to all the leaders that came with us on the weekend. The recordings are going to be put over the top of a digital film that us both, and Marcus, are going to be making with Lou in our own time about the weekend. We had both put in a lot of effort over the course of the day and as soon as we had the idea, we got straight on with it. Fingers crossed it turns out okay! Also, many thanks to all those who took part in this and answered the questions as honestly as possible.
11pm was reflection again and this was being led by Niamh, Eden, Marcus, Tom, Rebecca, Ella and I. Our main focus of the reflection was all the topics we had covered over the course of the weekend up until that point. We each said prayers to do with ‘SHARING VOICES’ and mental health and we thought about the topic of refugees we would be looking at the day after. It was really calm in the chapel and then we all livened up once we got out of there and we didn’t go to sleep until ridiculous-o’ clock!!
We either stayed downstairs where Nathan put Netflix on in the Main Lounge or went into the rooms upstairs and chatted. Overall, the day had been a lovely, eye-opening day and we had all made relationships that would really last! Thank you to all those who led workshops and everyone who took part!
Sunday 21st October
Again, we were woken up at 8:15am by the music from the corridors and we met downstairs at 8:45 for breakfast. Castlerigg had made us a cooked breakfast of sausages, beans and potato waffles with cereal and porridge. Like Saturday, breakfast was followed by reflection over the weekend we had had so far and the last few hours we had ahead of us. The first workshop of Sunday was led by Eden, Rebecca and Ella and their theme was refugees. Ella began by talking us through the story of a refugee that she had spoken to before and done an interview with. This was an eye-opener to the world around us and how we don’t really know what is going on in other people’s lives or their past. Eden and Rebecca then took over for their half of the workshop and they did a true or false game with facts about refugees. Then, they did a ‘would you rather’ game as if we were refugees and this really showed us how hard it was for them and what sort of decisions they had to make. To conclude, we got into small groups and went on a pretend journey as a refugee. We had to decide on the 5 things we would take with us and along the way, we had to leave people behind as some died and for others, there was no room for them on the small boat. This tested our self-control as to what we took and what we didn’t and we had to put others before ourselves.
We then had a break and then Tom, Niamh, Marcus and I led a workshop which woke people up as we had all been awake most of the night and developed our friendships further. Our workshop was games and this helped people to communicate to one another. We did team games where the whole team had to work together in order for there to be a good or the correct outcome. This linked in with ‘SHARING VOICES’ because it meant that we all had to work together and share our voices for there to be a good or correct outcome. Many games were played and by the end of it, everyone was awake and lively.
We had a roast dinner for lunch followed by a bowl of ice cream. Then, we got our bags and loaded them onto the buses and off we went back home.
Over the weekend, we had learnt so, so much from each other and from ourselves. The weekend had brought so much to each of us either as a group or as individual people. Our eyes had been opened to new things that we hadn’t realised, seen or been aware of before. I’d like to say thank you to everybody for making this weekend a truly special one and one that I will remember, thank you to all the new friends I made and a huge thank you to all the staff and leaders, especially to Terry for making the whole thing work!
Written by Hallie
Preston Impact Group