We have always found it beneficial to take young people outside of the confines of the church hall or youth centre. In the fresh air and without the pressure of mobile phones and a set programme there is room for relaxed conversation, exercise and adventure. At 2:52 Challenge we use pilgrimage as one way of doing that.
We recommend that all 2:52 Challenge participants take part in a pilgrimage while completing level 1 of the programme. We suggest a minimum of two days walking (or cycling/rowing etc.) and an overnight stay either camping or staying in a youth hostel or church. The distance will depend on the ability of the group.
Young people are asked to organise the pilgrimage themselves and if they are not going to visit a church, chapel or cathedral on their way we ask that they include a spiritual element to the journey. We also recommend that part of the journey is made in silence. Even just a 20 minute part of the journey, made in silence, allows time for personal reflection.
There are many other reasons why we include pilgrimage in our programme.
- Some of the young people that have attended 2:52 Challenge have never spent time in the countryside and a pilgrimage is a great way to introduce them to the wonders of God’s creation.
- We include an outdoor skills challenge in the 2:52 Challenge programme that includes learning to read maps, read a compass, make a fire and cook outdoors. The pilgrimage helps group members put into practice the new skills that they are learning.
- Working together to plan the pilgrimage develops planning, organisational and teamwork skills.
- Walking is a great way to improve fitness levels.
- Talking with fellow walkers that they meet along the way develops social skills.
- Our world is so fast moving and noisy that time out, without wifi, tv and even a phone signal helps the young people find a slower pace of life.
We also feel that an overnight stay is important. Young people will often open up into the evening and you can have some great open and honest conversations.
Asking the young people to write down what they hope to get out of their pilgrimage before setting off, and then reviewing their notes after the trip, is a great way to keep focussed and open up further discussion.