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Annual weekends

You may be surprised to realise that Shechem is over ten years old. Read the reviews of the last few annual weekends here. Look back on what we did, laugh at some of the pictures, and remind yourself of what we learnt.

Reflection on the 2014 Weekend

For me the weekend began with a long drive after moving house all day, followed by putting my tent up in the dark. At this point the idea of waking up in time for an 8.30 breakfast was not an attractive one, but as soon as I walked into the dinning room and saw the smiling faces of all those lovely Shechemites I was a happy man again.

Food always plays an important part in any Shechem gathering, and we were really spoiled by the guys at House of the Open Door. Every meal was both huge and very tasty, and the volunteers accommodating and helpful. They also gave us lots of tea and coffee and biscuits with which to chat over.

All the teaching and other sessions gave us a great opportunity to unpack what it means to live our lives at God’s pace. Ed and Emma talked to us about living, working and leading a church in London and looking to God to know when to run and when to rest. Mavis and Mark O gave us resources and bible passages to help us, and Jen and James led us through a session of sharing thoughts, quotes, images and scripture that spoke to us about following God’s pace.

We had a great trip to a local church, where we were welcomed into a lovely service and even treated to a rendition of Toccata and Fugue from their organist. We also went to a village fete and the flower show, and some of us sampled the local brews at the pub too.

A great weekend with amazing people, lovely food, and a fantastic time to worship, pray and learn together.


Food for the Body; Food for the Soul: Reflections on 2011 Camp Teaching

I love intriguing titles, and seeing those of our speaker, Howard Page-Clark, set me thinking, maybe it's the same for you; “Abraham entertains three men” (Gen. 18:1-15), "Jesus has a different sort of lunch" (Jn 4:4-35), "The disciples prepare a supper, which Jesus hijacks" (Jn 13:1-15) and "Jesus cooks breakfast for the disciples" (Jn 21:2-19). All that talk of meals led me to share about saying grace, as a preparation for the main courses to come, at the Friday evening gathering.

We were reminded that Jesus often "gave thanks", in keeping with Jewish tradition, and not least at the Passover, but that this was not just for the food, but a thanksgiving for those present, for family, and for salvation as well. (The Jewish "Berakah"). This at the beginning of a meal, the bread being used symbolically. At the end of the meal the host or chief guest would give a further thanksgiving, using the last cup of wine. So often when we take communion in our churches, we miss this extra significance; Jesus broke the bread and said the Berakah, “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the world, who bringest forth bread from the earth”, after which the meal took place, with all the time, conversation, laughter and everything else. And then, when He gave the longer thanksgiving at the end, a much more poignant moment, thanks for them, His Father, his ministry, maybe in a way thanks for us! The invitation in the Berakah is "Let us give thanks", a communal action, and concludes with an "Amen".

It crossed my mind how often we take a communion service without realising how much more it entails - perhaps these thoughts can help us find deeper realisation in the future.

Bob Jackson


Shechem Weekend 2011: A youthful perspective

Shechem this year was my first time back after graduating. Sadly, throughout my four gruelling years of study (okay, I admit it, Durham was actually an amazing experience), I had only been able to make it down to camp once, so returning was something I had been looking forward to for a while.

My name was down to assist with the youth and I felt, as I was now a ‘grown-up’, that it was my duty to put my name down on the Loo Rota! Fortunately, Shechem is truly a family where getting older does NOT mean getting boring. It is totally acceptable to still have fun and act silly even when you are a grandfather, isn’t that right?! And I LOVE it. So, I may have been down on rotas and in a ‘Position of Responsibility’ with the ‘Youth’ but it was still Camp.

Our sessions down at the Farmhouse were great. We were blessed to have Tim, Amanda and Becky as guests, and helping with the youth. I decided my job title was ‘Liaison’ and proceeded to find my place nestled comfortably between the leadership and victims, err, I mean youth. As ever there was great acceptance for newbies and a true joy at being with old friends again. My most memorable experience of the sessions (after Ross’ fabulous interpretation of Sarah - Abraham’s wife, and the victory of the girls’ team in ‘Who-Can-Remove-The-Most-Metal-Spoons-From-The-Bucket-of-Water-in-a-Minute-Using-Only-Your-Feet-While-Leaving-All-The-Plastic-Ones’) was the exercise we did with the picture cards. There were fifty postcard-sized photographs of various things from an eye to a view of a sunset to a woman looking out from behind a small window in a door. They were laid out in front of us all and then questions were asked to which we had to choose a photograph that for us depicted at least some of our answer. The five questions began with ‘Think about your life right now, which image best describes it?’ and ended with ‘When you think about your spiritual life or journey, which image best represents what you wish were true?’ The youth really engaged and there was some great depth, honesty and insight in their answers, while also some hilarious ones.

From Shechem Camp this year my biggest memory will be the last night. Who can fail to have enjoyed Hammad’s sing-a-long evening?! A family of loonies ranging from a few months up to OAPs dancing the night away and singing at the top of their voices to such classics as ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and ‘We are the Champions’! Thank you to everyone who was there for this great joyful and crazy night and thank you to the various musicians who made it possible.

Jessi Orr

2010: Discovering the Kingdom

As the May bank holiday rolled around we all made our way happily to the field for another Shechem weekend camp, which kicked off with the sight of Bob, dressed in a sheet, waving a feather duster around, in an illustration of the parable of the lost coin.  It was good to be back.

This year the talks were provided by Howard and Jodi Page-Clark, and it was great to see them again at the weekend and spend time with them.  They spoke about the Kingdom of God, and Jodi made a lovely prayer area in the Barn with photos of members of the community.  We also met Allie, a local curate, and her four daughters, who came along to help out with the youth. 

On the Saturday evening Allie entertained the youth with some "Godly play" – games and activities with a biblical flavour.  We had fun, food, and some very impressive dancing from one of the children.

There was more food Sunday morning, with the cooked breakfast.  I wasn’t well, and missed it, but given that all the food was gone by the time I turned up, I think we can safely assume it was a good meal!

There were plenty of activities that day, including pottery painting, first aid, and train spotting.  The highlight had to be Jobey’s Samba band – a bunch of us gathered in the main tent holding an assortment of pots, pans, and random pieces of debris.  Over the next hour or so we were shaped by Jobey and Abi into a band, able to play a variety of samba rhythms and stop on instruction from our conductor.

During the weekend we caught up with old friends – the foreshore, the horses, the tube... We were saddened to see that the tyre swing has gone though!

The weather was mostly pretty good – even staying sunny long enough for a game of rounders one afternoon!  The nights were cold, but hopefully everyone had enough blankets to be comfortable.

On the last night we had the traditional BBQ and cabaret – this year the Samba band performed, as well as some sketches (including Hubby and Wifey, by request), some readings, and live music.  We have a talented bunch of people at our weekends!

We had the AGM, and some rather important questions about the future of Shechem and the annual weekends were raised.  After a long discussion in the meeting we got into buzz groups to discuss things further during the afternoon.  

This year’s camp weekend was a fairly quiet affair, we were missing some of our usual members, including several youth who were sitting exams, and both Abi and Jenny were ill for a large part of the weekend. 

Despite this it was a good weekend, a lovely time to catch up with friends and to relax in familiar and comforting surroundings.

Abi Orr

Shechem weekend 2009

I'm back from the weekend, I'm clean from the weekend, and my clothes are washed from the weekend, still tired from the weekend though!

After arriving at not long after midday on Friday, I found the usual troop of people ready to greet me, we chatted, erected tents, commented on the graffiti covering the tube, greeted others arriving, erected tents, commented on the graffiti covering the tube, then when others arrived we erected awnings, commented on graffiti covering the tube...

In the evening we had a short meeting with some worship (unfortunately my singing isn't up to a lot so I had to give a large nod and a wink where people were meant to come in so we didn't have to listen to introductions more than 7 times). The yoof then went to the bird hide and chatted (quietly, of course). Later on the Friday night Meri arrived, which seemed to signal a trip to Tesco in Poole (though that became Asda as we couldn't find Tesco...).


I can't really say what happened on Saturday other than people arrived because my head decided to play silly games and I had to dozzzzzze at regular intervals... I do remember playing cards in the evening!

Sunday was another sun-day, but felt strange because so many people left. We had the yoof tube photo, Newcastle and Boro got relegated, England won the cricket, and Jenson Button won another grand prix. The AGM was on Sunday too.. The yoof went to the pub in the evening.
Pool at the pub


Monday was again, a lovely day, my head was better so I was able to do more and even venture into the sun for extended periods of time in the evening, we were entertained by a variety of performances from a hole in my bucket to a hole in the economy, and street dancing to Jesus in the boat!

If anyone has any stories to tell about the weekend, anything I missed, any links to photo albums online then please send them to me and we'll try to make them available here.


Thank you everyone for a great weekend!

Matt Tarry