For between 18 – 20 years (hard to tell it’s been so long) my wife and I have led a youth group for kids aged 10 – 14 in a church hall on a council estate. We led our final group last week and did a sort of semi-official hand over to the new worker in charge (because the group will carry on, which is the loveliest thing of all) and then, this Friday, we had a social night for the youth group leaders and the kids who had been at the group longest and were leaving this year.
It’s been, basically, emotional. A little. For the past year especially I’ve been shattered before I start each night (although it’s never hard to raise the energy levels for a game of football or chat to the kids who attend) and it’s the right time, for a number of reasons, to stop.
We thought Friday night had been the finale but were ambushed by everyone in the church with a range of gifts and a meal as a thank you. All of it was a lovely surprise; there were a number of rounds of applause as kids said thank you for various things we’d done over the years and almost everyone said thank you for working so hard.
Basically – and we’re keeping the tickets to the Shard (one of the presents) in a safe place so no returns… But it wasn’t work. Sitting down and chatting to kids, seeing how they are and encouraging the best out of them, has never been work and, though we’ve been tired through what life has thrown our way for the past few years, running the youth group has always been a pleasure. Sometimes the nights were trickier to navigate than others but always we felt like we were in the right place at the right time.
Now it’s time to rest though, for a while…