After nearly 30 years involved with Ventures, few people are better placed than Sami Watts to reflect on how these life-changing holidays still make a difference to children and young people in 2012.
Sami first attended a Venture as a 14-year-old in 1984, and she is now an overall leader at Haslemere, normally leading on two or three holidays every year. So, what still excites her about being involved with Ventures?
'An essential part of Ventures is a really clear presentation of the gospel,' she said. 'In the series of talks we go back to basics, because it's really all about the cross. Even after all these years that always inspires and refreshes me.
'The community that we create may appear peripheral but it's also really important, because that's why people come back, and often bring their friends or siblings with them. In many ways, we hope that people who come at 14 will still be here 10 years later as leaders.
'It's seeing young people grow up as leaders and the sense of
family on Haslemere that keeps me coming back.' With such a strong sense of community, Sami sees real benefits from investing in
relationships during the course of a Venture.
'The biggest difference happens in the informal moments, when people open up because they feel connected to the community that's formed during the week,' she said.
'The Bible talks, worship sessions and prayer times are all vital, but the real impact becomes apparent in conversations over meal times,
or chatting when walking to the sports hall for an activity. We put a strong emphasis on relationships, and the more formal Christian input
takes its foundation in those relationships.
'We see pretty much everything on a Venture. Some kids make
a first-time commitment to following Jesus, which is always great. Others need real encouragement from the leaders or other teenagers,
and unfortunately the reality of youth ministry means that sometimes people wander away from their faith because they're struggling too much.'
Away from her commitment to Ventures, Sami is a part-time youth worker at Emmanuel Northwood, in north London, where her husband Graham is associate minister. As somebody passionate about youth ministry, Sami sees the vital place that Ventures has in the mixture of input along with church-based youth work during the rest of the year.
Inspired by this story?
Sami's story was featured in Catalyst magazine. You can subscribe to Catalyst for free, or read the current issue online.
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