Year 8 Briars – Choice, Forgiveness, Promises

These were the three words that underpinned our Year 8’s retreat to the Brairs. We took over 50 students in the last week of January up to the snowy hills of Derbyshire for yet another fantastic week.


As the year 8s were in the middle of deciding their options for GCSE our retreat began with looking at choice. All choices have results some bad, some good. The students explored through prayer, discussions and lots of fun activities and games what choices we make and what results they can have. One way they did this was by entering the world of work at the Briars factory!! The students joined the lines for interviews at the briars factory, some things they had to do to get a job included sing a song, guess the interviewer’s favourite colour or pat your head and rub your tummy. If they managed to get through the interview process, they had to hope they didn’t get fired from the factory. Things you could get fired for were talking, blinking, not talking, using the wrong colour pencil etc. They then had to join the back of the line for interviews again. Those who managed to get paid were shocked with their small wages. This was all of course was to show the students how there are unfair working practises throughout the world, and we can have the power to bring about change.


The Interviews for the Briars Factory


Hard at work in the briars factory.

Forgiveness was the second focus of our week. The students decorated plant pots with such care and beauty only to find that they were to be smashed with a baseball bat! They were then given tape to stick the pots back together for the evening reconciliation service. Candles were then placed into the plant pots and we could see that these cracks and brakes allowed the light to shine out. It was explained that the pots are like our relationship with God sometimes it gets broken but God comes and forgive us and puts us back together; these breaks then allow God’s light to shine through us. Students were then invited to write things they were sorry for on pieces of paper which were later burnt by Fr John and those who wished were also able to receive the sacrament of reconciliation too.


One of the mended plant pots

Promises- The students were given a challenges in their prayer times ‘What can you promise God?’ We heard of this great things that God has done for us and is doing for us what can we offer him in return; the students created posters of these promises and took them home with them.

Our last night was a great celebration with a very vibrant thanksgiving Mass, where we shared different things we had done during the week followed by a talent show and disco.



glad rags on for the disco.


Chapel and Classroom (aka Joe and Mr Wilson) before their never to be repeated (thank God) performance of lets get ready to rumble and what they called ‘break dancing’

It was as always a fantastic week and it was great to see all the happy if not tired faces at the end of it.