Where can you find a concept as amazing as Gniyllub combined with DIY Olympics, water volleyball and a host of other fun shenanigans and malarkey?

The answer to that is Yellow Braces – our awesome annual youth camp which sees 11-18 year-olds from across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes swarm to Hill End in Oxfordshire. Led by Ian Macdonald, our Diocesan Youth Adviser, and a team of dedicated volunteers, the weekend takes place in the camp, which is based in the multi-purpose outdoor residential facility. Jo Duckles joined the team at Hill End to find out more.

Being there feels like you are out in the countryside. You wouldn’t know that you were just a couple of miles from the outskirts of Oxford. Hill End is a site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s a beautiful place with varied habitats. It’s got a massive area for a variety of games and a tennis court which is perfect for water balloon volleyball.

What on earth is Gniyllub?

Gniyllub runs through the weekend, from start to finish, with worship and teaching from the Friday evening to the Sunday afternoon that unpicks what that means. After a Friday evening dinner treat of burger and chips, everyone gathers in the barn for worship, and Ian explains what gniyllub, which is literally bullying spelt backwards, means.

“Bullying makes people feel small. Gnillyub is about making people feel big.”

It’s simple – it’s the opposite of bullying. This may mean sitting next to the person who is on their own in the food hall instead of staying in the security of your own group of friends. It can mean throwing the ball to the weaker person during games because helping them feel included is more important than winning. It means generally looking out for and helping other people. “Bullying makes people feel small. Gnillyub is about making people feel big,” says Ian.

The idea is that everyone at Yellow Braces can be themselves and be accepted. Introducing the weekend Ian told the group that in the Bible Jesus tells us that he came so that we may have life and have it to the full.

What does it mean to have life in all its fullness?

Ian asked: “What does it mean to have life in all its fullness?” Ian proceeded to show a Lucozade advert about finding your flow as well as grime star Stormzy’s Blinded by Your Grace. The theme flowing through the weekend was that we are all unique, but all equal and all welcome.

Night one continued with a popular, fun night hike around the perimeter of Hill End. For those who didn’t fancy braving the dark, there were games and crafts in the food hall.

Each day the fun, energetic activities were sandwiched with great teaching – challenging the young people to think about what they considered success to be and to consider their self-worth.

All this is combined with great food, community spirit and young people and leaders alike who come back year after year. Hear what they have to say about what makes Yellow Braces such a fantastic event.

Interested in taking teenagers from your church to Yellow Braces in 2020? Find details of how to register your interest here.