Looking from the outside in.

Dusk over Glenalmond College & the Provincial Youth Week

I was privileged and proud to be able to support our delegates and leaders from Fife Cluster YF at Glen ’19, the Annual Provincial Youth Gathering held at Glenalmond College, just outside Perth. The theme for this year’s gathering was “Songs and Stories” and on 24th July, I travelled up on a gloriously sunny day to spend the afternoon and early evening with the delegates. 

For those of you who have never visited Glenalmond College it was founded by the renowned politician, WE Gladstone. It opened its doors to fourteen pupils on 4 May 1847. Glenalmond College is a Scottish Episcopal Church foundation. The first Warden was Charles Wordsworth, the nephew of the poet, William Wordsworth. Today it covers extensive grounds with excellent facilities, most of which are put at the disposal of the delegates attending Glen. The delegates stay in one of the boarding houses on the campus, on a house group basis and the communal area around the theatre gives accommodation for a leader’s base and gathering place. Meals, which I had the pleasure of experiencing, are taken in the Refectory. I understand that a part of one of the Harry Potter movies was shot in the cloisters.

A very full and varied programme is put together with detailed planning and visitors are encouraged to come on the days which suit the camp timetable. I arrived around 2.30pm, was warmly welcomed, introduced to the leaders who were on duty and given a PVG and housekeeping brief by my allocated host. The base was quiet as the delegates were out and about enjoying fresh air. But a large bag of ice lollies were spotted, which were quickly distributed. 

During the morning the house groups had been involved in filming a story about a character they were given, inventing a name, age, and characteristics. These were very professionally edited into a presentation by each group and accompanied by an original song in some cases. It was lovely to see how close knit the delegates had become, with encouragement from their peers and their leaders. This year saw a particularly high attendance from “first timers”, they were well looked after and the leaders, most of whom are in their young adult years were quick to respond to any uncertainties the delegates had.

The Provincial Youth week debating major issues of the day

I was asked to sit on a discussion panel centred around the UN Sustainable Development Goals together with The Revd Tembu Rongong the Provincial Youth Officer, Joe Brewer-Lennon, the husband of one of the leaders and Jane Strange, wife of Bishop Mark. We were given three prepared questions in advance which on my part needed a bit of homework and then took written questions from the floor. The prepared questions for info were:1. Of the sustainable development goals, which stands out to you as the most important and how do you think we will achieve this?2. How do you think your employer/work can engage with the development goals to help achieve them? 3. What is your hope for the world we are going to leave behind?

Again the organisation was impeccable, with a moderator chairing the panel. The maturity of the questions displayed to me how much thought had gone into the session and the respect to each other displayed by everyone was commendable. Evening Prayer is prepared each day by delegates with each house group taking a turn to conduct. Wednesday’s theme was about “Love” and the “SqueezyPeace”, which we have experienced here at St Peters happened – some thought provoking words, and some ideas for worship at St Peter’s. A little bit of free time then we headed up to the Refectory for the evening meal. Before the final event, I took the opportunity to walk with Bubbles in the grounds, only she could find a tennis ball at Glenalmond to add to her collection! She was a huge hit with the delegates and I received many offers for her to stay till Saturday and she would be well looked after. She did get a chance to play with some of the delegates and her new found ball. The leaders had prepared a pantomime for entertainment, which was hilarious and very well received. As I left, the theatre area was being transformed into a cinema with popcorn and snacks. The film on show was The Greatest Showman.

If you want a fuller flavour of the activities, then do visit the Provincial Youth Network Facebook page.

My lasting impressions? A very successful week, impeccably organised, a pastorally sensitive close knit supportive community, rooted firmly in prayer and worship – and oodles of fun. 

Thank you Glen ’19 for allowing me to be part of it and I’m looking forward already to the possibility of being able to visit next year. Oh – and the food was good too.

Christine Fraser

Rector, St Peter’s Kirkcaldy