"We were all committed to learning..."
A seven day intensive training gathering was held at Camp Iona in January. Youth attended from the communities of Waimakariri, Waitaki, Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill. Depending on their prior experience and plans for future service, the participants were tutored in Book 1, Book 4, or Book 5 of the sequence of institute courses. There was a preparatory week of training for the young tutors in Books 1, 2, 4 and 5 prior to the camp. These youth ran the programme with logistical and training support from the adults accompanying them.
The following is a summary of the week by one of the tutors:
From 20th-27th January, five youth (15-16yrs) from Oamaru, Christchurch and Dunedin gathered together to learn about how we, as youth, can create true bonds of friendship and how, by working with younger youth, we can foster a spirit of unity and service in our own communities. This was done through the study of Ruhi Book 5.
With a mix of friends of the Faith and those from Bahá’í families, a key learning was the realisation that we were all trying to strengthen our Bahá’í identity. We were all committed to learning as much as we could about the Faith to understand what it meant and how it applied to serving the junior youth population. We made sure that our space was one in which any questions about the Faith, its laws, the principles, and the Central Figures were answered honestly and humbly.
The strength of our study circle was the deep sense of commitment and participation within the group. The bonds of friendship formed between tutor and participants fostered a frank, loving, enthusiastic and considerate learning environment for all to learn. An exploration of the forces in society was particularly relevant and interesting for the youth as we identified negative aspects of the media and how they influence us and other vulnerable generations.
After the completion of the Ruhi book, we had the opportunity to put what we had learnt into practice by running a small junior youth lesson in the Oamaru (Waitaki) community. We planned a small lesson from Spirit of Excellence, role-played conversations with junior youth about their aspirations and views, and learnt a song to teach them. The youth truly inspired me with their courage. They arose to complete the task beautifully, with no hesitation whatsoever, especially as these junior youth were all friends of the Faith. Their learning was consolidated through this practise and we could see how much they had learnt by their increased confidence and by how they wove Book 5 concepts into their conversations.
It was such a fruitful camp and now we are all looking forward to accompanying each other in our next endeavours.