Holiday School 2022 Epistle

After two years of being unable to meet properly during the pandemic, we
have finally been reunited for the week at Yorkshire Friend’s Holiday School
2022. Whilst we were a smaller bunch than usual, the feeling of the
community remained the same and felt very fitting to our week’s theme of
We began the week with a session from Youth Develoment Officer Jo Baynham
and Holiday School alumnus Bridget Holtom. For this, we all brought items that
represented ‘Home’ to us, and shared our feelings on the items, which
included everything from photographs to kitchen equipment, whilst creating a
cairn of objects together. After the break, we discussed times our lives had
been on top of the world, and times we had been challenged, creating a
timeline of our Quaker experiences along the way. This session led to many
emotional conversations and set us off as a very close-knit community, as well
as helping to examine Quaker values.
Tuesday’s session was provided by the York Travellers Trust, presented by
Abigail Darton and Paula Nicholson. With many questions and a chance to
correct our pre-existing assumptions, this was an extremely valuable session
for examining our biases and the affect that laws can have on the living
situations of those in society we often ignore. We are very grateful to Paula for
speaking so candidly about her culture and experiences, and hope that we can
have this session again in future as we are all enthusiastic to learn more.
Wednesday’s session was provided by Guy Milner on the idea that our groups,
communities, and identities can create our home. We discussed labels we have
given ourselves and had placed upon us, and how we felt connected to them.
This led to a structured discussion within our nest groups, which brought us
closer in those smaller groups of people who we felt safe opening up to. We
also employed a symbol to end a conversation if we felt uncomfortable, which
was empowering to us in sharing personal experiences.
Thursday was the legendary session known as The Game. This years’ story was
that the Prime Minister, Liz Truss, was incapacitated by cheese, and as nest
groups we were tasked with creating a campaign, banner and speech for our
candidate for her replacement. The Farty Party won with their rousing speech
on bean subsidies, with the Slumber Party not far behind. Special regards to
the Birthday party who were booed off stage! This is always a great laugh, and
thanks to the imaginative staff who came up with the idea!
On Friday we were provided an excellent session by Ruth Holtom and Yaaseir
from Safe Passage, an international charity who provide help with homes and
travel for refugees and asylum seekers. This helped us to think about things we
could do as individuals and as communities to help these displaced individuals,
and were all in awe of Yaaseir’s hard work and resilience. It has inspired us to
aim to partner with a charity as Holiday School in coming years, to do
something as our community.
Potted sports is also a regular highlight of the week, which happened during
free time on Tuesday. This is essentially a giant water fight, and this year we
were competing to replace a failing circus! With many laughs and some
friendly competition, it is always a favourite, particularly for Student Helpers!
Also during free time this year we held a Peace Vigil for Ukrainian
Independence Day on Wednesday, which was a powerful statement as
Quakers for our opposition to the conflict and our desire to hold the people
affected in the light. Along with these we also held a football tournament and a
table tennis tournament, both of which roused everyone to fierce loyalty to
their teams!
Throughout the week we also have regular activity groups. This year there was
Sport who played plenty of football and badminton; Room 42 who answered
all of life’s questions from ‘What is success?’ to what’s the best sandwich; the
Dungeons and Dragons group who ran a campaign around friendship and
necromancy; Craft who repurposed military uniforms as peaceful statements;
and the Music Video group who created the perfect ode to a member of
Holiday School. These activity groups are a nice time to simply enjoy something
we rarely make time for in general life, and stay consistent throughout the
week to allow for bonding with another smaller group of people. The Rag, our
newspaper, kept us updated on all of the satirical events and gossip during the
event, with its memorable tone and misspellings!
One of the highlights and unique selling points of Holiday School are our
evening socials. These are a chance to let loose with a range of traditional
ballroom and ceilidh dances, as well as silly games. Every night ends with the
Moonlight Saunter, a slow dance which leads into the epilogue and ends the
night on a calm and worshipful note.
Also important to our community are secret friends, who gave presents, notes
and hugs throughout the week, and TCUK providing their excellent range of
tuck shop goodies. Between scheduled activities we communed in the glorious
sunshine, and it was wonderful to be able to connect again after so long.
To conclude, this year has shown us that the Holiday School Spirit can survive
anything, and we look forward to continuing on a bright new path in future