Surviving Camp With A Fully Charged Mobile Phone

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Getting though summer camp with a fully charged mobile phone is like running down the side of a mountain with a dirty martini trying desperately not to spill it – good luck!

From hurrying up the tardy group member, to locating the mini bus, to checking in with concerned parents, every precious little bit of juice matters.

If you’re at something like Soul Survivor, finding a charging port can be the difference between going to the right seminar (you know, the quiet one with the wall sockets) and having to queue in the tool shed for half an hour while feigning interest in a gap year that you’re obviously ten years too old for.

Follow these simple geeky tips to be economic with your juice and stay on top of the battery game this year:

Make your software work for you, not without you.

This is an easy one! Simply make sure you’re not using power-draining apps and background software that you don’t need.

  1. Go to your battery settings and find out what apps are using power. If you don’t need them, close them!
  2. Also check out what background apps are running in your settings – close those too. Always close apps from the background after you use them.
  3. Switch off wi-fi, tethering, bluetooth, data roaming and push email clients. Also switch from 3g or 4g to 2g (or GSM).
  4. Switch off location services and GPS (once you get there!).
  5. f you have a high deff or AMOLED screen, make sure your background and lock screen are set to just black.
  6. Speaking of the screen, manually set the brightness to the lowest you can handle and drop the timeout/standby time to as low as it will go (usually 15 seconds).
  7. Get rid of your phone’s vibrate setting, and put a boring but audible single tone ringtone on instead.
  8. Look into power management apps and widgets like ‘Power Control’ or ‘DU Battery Saver.’

Discover new ways of charging your phone.

A few little tweaks, and maybe a little money will go a long way to recharge your phone without having to stand on a friend’s shoulders to reach the maintenance plugs above the loos!

  1. Turn on aeroplane mode when charging. Aeroplane mode shuts down the processing power usually used to communicate to towers. This can speed up charging time by 10-25% depending on your phone.
  2. Invest in a car charger, and spend 30 mins to yourself in an evening charging your phone. If you’ve got a small petrol engine, then you’ll be wanting to run the car for 20 mins of that time.
  3. If you’ve got the option then go for a leisure battery or electric hook up so you can charge at camp.
  4. Invest in a decent power bar / portable battery with a high capacity. Amazon are selling Anker E6 20800mAh bars right now for about twenty quid!!! These should charge your phone 3-7 times.
  5. Don’t leave your charger anywhere! Not every nice Christian person is a nice Christian person.

Be thrifty with the vanity.

If you’re on camp – be on camp! I’m a big tweeter, instagramer and facebook user, but y’know what? I’m camping!!! so I can use those data-heavy and power-hungry apps when I get home! Bring a digital camera with you instead, or just photobomb everyone else!

A Cantankerous Old Man’s Guide To Youth Work

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When I was 15 one of my best friends was a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, called Cliff.

Being paralysed from the waist down after a bad car accident, Cliff hadn’t left his flat in 10 years. He was old, he was moody, he was racist, he smoked like a chimney (not just tobacco!), he swore like a sailor and drunk like a very thirsty fish.

Why on earth was this cantankerous old man one of my best friends? 2 reasons:

1. He just liked having me around!

Cliff took a genuine interest in the things I cared about. He would just sit and listen to me talk about guitars and computer games. He even bought me a large power kite one day after hearing me rave about them. He didn’t try to be like me, or pretend to be ‘one of the guys,’ he just genuinely cared about me and really did like spending time with me.

When I had major surgery, he got Iceland Home Delivery to send six large crates of junk food to my hospital bed (which fed all three Children’s wards in Blackpool Victoria Hospital). When I turned 16, he paid a taxi driver to bring a magnum bottle of champagne to my front door. What a freaking legend!

2. He gave me responsibility.

Cliff allowed me to rebuild his computers, cook him meals and do his shopping. I would tidy his house, sort his mail and charge the batteries in his wheelchair. I never had any doubt that I was valuable to him.

By the end of his life Social Services would no longer work with him. He would rage and throw things at them. I had the keys to his flat, became his next of kin and his sole carer. When Cliff died I organised his funeral – at 17. His estranged family didn’t come.

Short Safeguarding Note: For those of you with Spidey senses tingling (rightly so), my parents kept up a relationship with Cliff themselves and kept a closer eye than I was aware of.


Cliff’s Guide to Youth Work

In terms of healthy boundaries, this might not be the ideal job description for a youth worker. It does however, give us two very clear principles for youth work:

1. Show young people that you genuinely value your time with them.

Don’t fake it, don’t milk it and don’t try to be one of them. Just like them, and like hanging out with them. Show them extravagant acts of love. Don’t know how – here’s 55 ideas!

2. Give them clear genuine responsibility.

Young people don’t want to be consumers, they are wired for producing. Simple entertainment-driven youth work is now going to way of the dodo – and good riddance to bad sugar-fueld nonsense!

Get them to run things, to work on things, to lead things, to learn things, to research things, to design their own programs, to tell you what they want to learn about and to help teach each other. Let them know that they’re valuable because they are valuable, not because they boost your youth group numbers.

Let’s learn from Cliff and take the words value, extravagance and genuineness to their youth work ideals.

Thank you Cliff.

8 easy tips for small group dynamics

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8 easy tips for small group dynamics

Part 3 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’


You can find part 1 here:

& Part 2 here:

You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here:

My Youth Work Survival Kit!

Ever had to do a last minute session on the fly? Me too – and it can be a real knock to your youth work ego and savvy when you’re fumbling around trying to make a point from a can of tinned carrots and run a game using your own rolled up sock!

Therefore I keep in my car at all times a ‘youth work survival pack.’ This includes a few Bibles (obvs!) but a few other things as well:

– Deck of cards
– A set of story cubes
– Gaffer tape
– Pens & Paper
– A ball of string
– Pegs
– Post It Notes
– Mini frisbee
– A copy of ‘name your top three’
– An inflatable beach ball / ice-breaker ball
– Blu Tac
– A power extension lead
– A bluetooth speaker
– A ping pong ball
– A packet of straws
– A couple of tealights & matches

This all fits in a shoe box under my driver seat – right next to my first aid kit! – and it has saved my youthy bacon on several occasions!

I’d love to know what you keep in yours, so post a comment and let me know!

Responding to tricky characters in your youth group (Small Group Dynamics part 2)

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Responding to those tricky characters in your youth cell group.

Part 2 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’


You can find part 1 here:

& Part 3 here:

You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here:

11 of the Most Common Personalities in Small Groups

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Part 1 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’

11 negative traits of personalities that you are likely to meet in your youth work’s small group.


find Part 2 on responding to these tricky characters here:

& Part 3 here:


You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here:

(sorry about the peaking microphone – I will get that fixed!!)


Youth Work Management. eBook.


Youth Work Posts have all moved to – check it out!

After a few weeks of compiling, editing and formatting ‘Random Thoughts On Youth Work Management‘ is finally a reality.

This is available from the iBooks / iTunes store.

Thank you to Katie Gough of Idiolalia for lots of help editing and to Joel Preston of Youth Ministry Management for writing a quality forward.


Random Thoughts On Youth Work Management is just that – a set of random blog posts that fits the bid. It is a short collection of thoughts on delivering quality youth work management in Christian settings. Specifically you will find ways to manage your team and develop good leaders; ways to manage yourself, developing personally and professionally; and ways to manage the tricky relationship between youth worker and youth work employer.


On the iTunes / iBook store – click here.

Youth Ministry Answers Launch Today!

Youth Work Posts have all moved to – check it out!

In the spirit of shoutouts and sharing epic resources with the Youthwork World I present to you:

ANSWERS-from-SYCUYouth Ministry Answers, a new blog and podcast by US husband and wife double team Elle and Kenny Campbell – the force behind ‘Stuff You Can Use.’ (Find the podcast on itunes here.)

You can find more info here… or simply watch the video below:



How To Be The Ideal Youth Worker


What makes an ideal youth worker ideal? What ingredients do you need to add to the mix? What specific traits and skills should we be developing to fill holes in our youth worker template?

This was a brilliant question posed to me in a training session this morning. I’m going to attempt to summarise my answer here.

There are several tiers to an ‘ideal’ youth worker starting with the nonnegotiable and working down to specific specialised skills. All of these should be developing, growing and organic.

We all love diagrams right? Here’s one I made earlier.


Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 12.41.14

There are no ideal youth workers, we all know this, and every youthworker will be different depending on context. However I feel these principles are mostly transferable. They are the basis for what I expect from myself and my teams. They also form the framework of my interview process.

Love For God & Young People

At the top of the pyramid are the most important: a love for God and a love for young people – and a keen flow between these two. If you don’t have these you’re following the wrong trail.


Second we see the key traits of longevity; faithfulness, a commitment to God, people, projects and ministry life; availability, a – within safe boundaries(!) – accessibility to people and projects; and teachability – a proactive willingness to learn and grow that is accountable and open. Full post on this here.

Commitment to …

This tier contains the essential faith-driven lifestyle commitments: An ever growing passion for reading the bible, prayer and worship personally and within community.

Development of…

Here we see specific skills that will be useful regularly in all kinds of youth work. Listening skills are always valuable, as is the ability to think and problem solve creatively. A growing theological understanding is also important, alongside learning different ways to communicate this understanding. Finally it’s key that every youth leader is trained in best safeguarding practice.

Specialising in…

The final tier includes the main areas where a youth leader should think about specialising. Not all of these will be essential to every youth worker.

Relational practice can be developed in many ways, but comes down to forming lasting, impressionable bonds with young people. Activity basis is taking specific gifts, talents and passions that you have and developing them in ministry contexts, for instance sport, music, drama, debate or knitting.

Inclusivity is always important but will rely on your context. This may include working alongside various ages, social and health difficulties, specific cultures or members of the LGBT community. Similar to this is working with those with different learning styles; key if you are doing lots of communication work and schools projects.

Parental support is particularly valuable if you’re doing church-based ministry as family worship is always the end goal. Finally management is vital if you’re overseeing projects and people.

This last tier is always the least important and is always the area that changes most throughout your youth work experience.

How to apply this in team management

These five tiers should form the basis of in house growth and training.

You should have the top two tiers sown solidly into the regular fabric of your projects, ministry and recruitment process.

The third tier is checked up on through community involvement (generally) and through regular individual supervision sessions (specifically). I try to do individual supervision in various ways once every 6 months, and team supervision annually.

The last two tiers should form the basis of group training that you run and attend. The top of these should be three-line-whip sessions for the whole team with regular annual repeats, and training for the last should be made available to those who want it.