For this year’s Patronal Festival we decided to try something a little different.

With the help and support of Pagham and Aldwick Sea Scouts we held an afternoon and evening event at the Sefter Road Scout Hut on Saturday 22nd June, followed by an open air service on the morning of Sunday 23rd. After quite a spell of rain over previous days, we thanked God for two days of perfect weather!

The action began on Saturday afternoon with a competition between two teams to see who could put up their old fashioned tents the fastest. With a few nudges from experienced scouters, both teams managed to fit the poles together, raise their canvasses and hammer in the wooden pegs. The sight (and smell!) of these tents transported many of us back to the campsites of childhood.

Following this Stephen C-R demonstrated how to skin a rabbit, offering several volunteers the chance to have a go themselves. All the rabbits were humanely killed on Stephen’s farmland and some campers took the prepped meat home to make into delicious stews the following day. This was a great opportunity to learn about the journey our food takes from field to table.

In the late afternoon we enjoyed a hog roast, perfectly prepared by Kate C’s family. After this we lit fire pits and toasted marshmallows – while tents may have evolved over the decades, some campsite activities have stayed the same! Some of the men’s group made a cross and altar for the Sunday service out of reclaimed materials – the latter doubled up as a handy bar later in the evening.

Our fires burnt long into the night as we chatted, sang to live guitar music, drank hot chocolate and passed the port, until it was finally time for us to retreat to our tents.

BE BOLD, Be Brave, the Lord your God is with you! – by Shirley Witcomb

Well He most certainly was as we celebrated our Patronal Festival weekend at the Scout Hut in Sefter Road. We were under canvas on comfortable chairs from church with Ann playing a small organ. In Pews News the previous week, we were invited to Be bold, leave your comfort zone and embrace our surroundings!’

So very glad we did! Our Vicar showed us what it was all about to embrace the beauty of nature, so generously displayed all around us – he walked bare-footed on the grass and even knelt down and kissed the grass beneath his feet. He and many others had camped out all night, probably too tired for the journey home after jumping on the bouncy castle all evening!?!

When the children and young people read the lessons and prayers, which they did so brilliantly, we heard every word. Everyone was relaxed and happy. It felt like being at the side of the Galilean Lake, with The One Whom we were there to worship and adore and to thank for all the magnificence and variety of this amazing world.

Thanks to all the strong, young people who transported the heavy church chairs, erected the tents, made the altar and cooked the bacon and egg baps for all the campers.

Where are we worshipping next Sunday?

Loving thanks for the inspiration and energy which went into this exciting venture.