Parishes from the inner south-eastern suburbs of Adelaide joined forces in the warmer months to provide youth ministry in the form of water-skiing days on the River Murray.
Guardian spoke with Rev’d David McDougall from St Saviour’s Anglican Church, Glen Osmond to find out how these multi-parish gatherings came to be…
G. When and where have these events taken place?
DM. So far this year we have held two water-skiing events, one in February on the very hottest day (it was 46 degrees at Bow Hill), and one in the next school holidays. The water-skiing events have been made possible by the very fine hospitality of Mark and Carol Hill-Ling at their fantastic shack on the River Murray. Mark and Carol worship at St Michael’s Mitcham and in their accommodating us on these days they have been very generously assisted in the provision of boats and equipment by Mike and Helen, their neighbours on the River. We are very grateful to Mark and Carol and to Mike and Helen. The ‘shack’ enjoys an absolute river frontage with extensive lawns and shade. Mark and Carol also provided cool drinks, put their ‘slushy machine’ at our disposal and donated a BBQ lunch for everyone. When we had the benefit of daylight savings, they also provided a chicken and chips feed at tea time. On one occasion, just when we thought things couldn’t get any better, an Esky appeared filled with cornetto ice-creams! Thanks Mark and Carol, and thanks Mike and Helen!
G. What’s the idea behind holding these events?
DM. The water-skiing days are not just a way to get teenagers to attend a Church youth group in numbers, although they certainly achieved that. These days are carefully designed to provide a seriously fun day, one that includes meaningful and co-operative interaction with others and with adults, and from which the beginnings of authentic community among young people can grow. There is a similar ministry in the Archdiocese of Brisbane that takes young people sailing. This ministry has been a source of inspiration for what we are attempting to do. You wouldn’t believe it, perhaps, but during the ski days, not one digital device was seen; there seemed to be no desire sit, isolated and silent, playing games on an i-pad, phone or any similar appliance. All were actively engaged in helping each other have success on the knee boards, swimming, ski-tubing, riding in the boats, or — now I know this will be surprising to some — actually talking to one another, and getting to know new people. There was a dog — no-one quite knew where he had come from, who was very helpful to us as we played cricket on the lawn. He was great in close an took quite a few courageous catches (which we, of course, recognised and gave the batter ‘out’). At lunch-time the dog took the ball, disappeared for a while, and then returned without it. We all thought the ball was lost and that we would have to leave off the cricket, but as soon as we began to pack up the lunch things, the intelligent dog disappeared again, returning with the ball in its mouth.
G. Who and how many were in attendance?
DM. Attendees at these days included clergy and accredited volunteers from the parishes of Mitcham, Glen Osmond, Burnside, Parkside, Hawthorn, and Clarence Gardens, our wonderful hosts as well as nearly 30 young people. It was quite a crowd on both occasions, not-with-standing the adverse weather conditions.
G. Is there a plan to hold similar events in the future?
DM. We aim to continue these or similar events each school holidays going forward. Our next activity is a dolphin and seal watching sailing day on a yacht that Glen Osmond parish have kindly chartered. There will be a BBQ lunch provided. Hopefully we’ll ski again in the warmer holidays, but we had to admit, it’s a bit too cold to ski in winter!
G. Are other parishes able to get involved?
DM. Other parishes are very welcome to participate in our program. In order to register interest and gather information they might make contact with the Parish office at Glen Osmond or call on 0447 307 386.