Oakes News July 2016 News stories and featured
NEW FOR 2016!
So far this year, we’ve constructed a gunge tank, allowing
the “Camper of the Day” to unleash a deluge of colourful
goo on a leader of their choice! Secondly, our new warm
outdoor showers replace the cold hose we previously
used to remove excess muck from mud-laden campers.
These have both been very popular additions!
A VIKING SUMMER
Not since the first boats returned home to
Scandinavia from their raid on Lindisfarne
Island have people so looked forward to
the coming of the Vikings!
Sheffield, watch out for the horned
helmets and wild parties as the Vikings
come to The Oakes this summer. For seven
weeks long the grounds will be invaded
by marauding Viking children coming for
a taste of glory and making memories to
share with their grandchildren. Not only
will there be dragons and mighty feasts
in the great hall but also a chance to rise
above the normal in the daily battles
between earls, warriors, farmers and
slaves. Watch out for the monks who will
be an easy source of gold and come test
your wits in our Viking training arena.
Book online now, if you haven’t already,
as you wouldn’t want this ship to sail
Not quite ready for summer but well on the way, will be
the new tunnel network we are currently building on
the bottom field. Situated behind our “Mudder” assault
course, this Work Team project involves laying down
some giant tubes just below the surface which daring campers will get
to crawl along and complete tasks as a team. Tom and Ben have done an
incredible job planning this out and we look forward to adding “tunnels”
to our growing selection of activities.
Very soon we will also be launching radio controlled boats on the pond to
make use of those winter months when rafting isn’t an option and, once
we have the correct protective gear, we hope to get swegways too.
If this isn’t enough, The Oakes’ very own bouncy castle is on order to
arrive before the end of summer to add some free-time fun and bounce
to outdoor games.
Noemi in the
*At time of writing we still have some spaces on our 10-14s and 11-15s summer
camps, but our 8-12s camps are full or just have a couple of spaces for boys.
, Oakes Park, Norton, Sheffield, S8 8BA | +44 (0)114 2359995
[email protected] | www.oakes.org.uk | Charity #1064155 | Romans 10:14
A NEW TEAM MANAGER
Gulp. My mouth dried up.
The realisation that I was starting a fuse that would end
my teaching career became suddenly real as the private
conversations became more public with my Head Teacher.
This is it. No more security in a monthly wage. No more
adding into my teacher pension. No more stability in a job
after 10 years teaching. Instead, my wife and I are trusting in
the gospel, in its truth, in its life-giving message.
From September, I
will be taking on the
role of Team Manager
with a camp focus of
speaking. We will be
living on site with
Thomas, our son
who is 4 in October,
and the twin girls
(currently residing in
Fiona at time of writing!) As a family, we are looking forward
to living at number 14. Thomas is excited about the animals
living near by and even more thrilled about the trampoline!
Fiona and I are trained as primary school teachers. We met in
a room full of teachers while learning short stories to teach
with actions. I had been a qualified teacher for 3 months,
Fiona 5 years. During the course, a mutual friend introduced
me to her and we were married within a year! Fiona is from
Derby and attended Derby City Church with her family. She
later went to De Montfort University, Leicester University
and then moved to Rotherham. I’m from Sheffield and have
been attending Christ Church Fulwood all my life. When we
married, we continued to attend Fulwood Church.
Rob & Fiona’s wedding ... plus Oakes guests!
God has been good to us through both of our careers.
For me, this change has been coming for a while. It is very
clear that through the past 3 years God has been preparing
myself, as well as Fiona, for The Oakes. I’ve been an Assistant
Head Teacher managing people and driven to give the best,
creative curriculum for children. It has been an enjoyable
period of my life and I‘m pleased with everything I’ve done.
However, through lots of gospel centred thinking, prayer,
careful consideration of the family and God’s direction, we
have decided to commit to the work of The Oakes for the
near future. As we come to The Oakes, I feel very equipped
to pastorally lead the team and also to communicate the
gospel in meetings effectively. Fiona will continue in 2017
teaching one day a week but for me, I’m very excited that I
will be able to use the skills the teaching profession has given
me and build on them for the gospel in full time ministry.
This brush with The Oakes is not my first. I remember clearly
washing mould off the walls in what is now Carmichael dorm
in 1998, nearly taking my leg out with an axe while chopping
a tree down in 2000 and helping out with many camps
in summer 2001!
However, my crowning
moment is that I was
on team for two years
from 2002-2004. Too
much flapjack, hard
graft and exhausting
camps for two years
is enough to put
anyone off, but the
aspect of the job that excites
me and makes me want to
go back the most is that
I’m eager to lead the team
pastorally. Having been on
team I have an insight into
the ups and downs of Oakes
life. To pastorally care for them, teach
them bible truths through study days and learn myself from
the team too, will be a huge privilege.
“I would like to speak to you about my future,” I said
trying to be confident, “I have an opportunity to be the
Team Manager at a Christian holiday centre in Sheffield.
Therefore, I can’t confirm if I would be a full time teacher
next year. Instead, I would be…resigning!”
BY ROB MARSDEN
I’ve already shared with Dan that in September I will
most likely look like ‘a rabbit in head lights’. This is an
understatement! In the space of one week, we will move
from Walkley to The Oakes, Thomas will begin a new nursery
at Norton, the twins will continue to reveal more about
themselves as we settle, we will all be meeting new people
and I will start a new job! Please pray for this transition in our
lives. Both Fiona and I are nervous about the coming months
and value your support. If you wish to follow our steps a little
closer, know more about what to pray for or to offer financial
support, then please get in touch ([email protected]).
As we move to The Oakes, we are reminded of Jesus’
instruction in Matthew 28:19-20:
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and
teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
With our teaching skills the two go together so well; to
teach the gospel to young people and to also teach the
team everything he has commanded us for our best, what
an amazing job!
A WORK TEAM LEGACY
BY BILLIE THAW
Work team fortnight has been a regular feature of The Oakes
calendar since 2000.
Work Team 2005
Even though the centre was able to open on 1 July 2000,
there were many projects still to be done, so we decided
that for two weeks each summer we would take time off
camps and focus on practical work instead. Sixteen years
later it looks like work team is here to stay!
In the early years, the projects were pretty ambitious but we
were blessed with large teams of volunteers from America
which made them realistic.
One group arrived early morning, jetlagged from having
flown to the UK through the night and they insisted on
starting work as soon as they arrived!
In 2002, we anticipated a large
group of able-bodied young men
and planned a job which involved
replacing a wall and floor. Last
minute, we found out that we only
had 7 US volunteers: 5 senior ladies
and 2 gentlemen, one of whom had
a heart condition. We called in local
reinforcements and not only did the
job get done, but also the ladies
started on banners and curtains which still look great today.
After ten wonderful years, new expensive visa requirements
have meant that the American work teams have now
sadly come to an end. However, we look back with thanks
and immense gratitude for all they contributed with such
enthusiasm and hard work.
Thankfully, work team lives on and each July, Tom, Ben and
Oakes team plus a crowd of committed volunteers tackle
a long list of jobs. Painting, pruning and decorating the
house for the summer theme feature each year plus one or
two major projects to improve our facilities or develop new
activities. Looking back, significant projects have included:
Games Room (2005)
Mini Golf (2009)
Pond Slide (2011)
Basket Swing (2012)
The Mudder (2014)
Pond Swing (2015)
Each work team has enhanced The
Oakes experience for every camper
and this year is no exception. The
recent work team have started work on
a new tunnel network which we hope
to introduce as an activity option as
soon as possible.
Every year, the team is an exciting
mix of young and not so young!
God brings together people with a
common purpose — to work for Him
and create something special where
children and young people can enjoy
a fun filled holiday with a gospel focus.
It is exciting to see how we always get
enough volunteers and also enough
donations to cover the cost of the
work, which is often substantial.
If you’re 15 or older, please consider
joining us next year (4-14 July 2017).
No particular skills are needed. Just
bring a willing heart, a broad smile
and be prepared to be blessed as you
bless others with your energy and
enthusiasm as you serve God together.
FAMILY FUN DAY
It has not exactly been a hot dry
summer so far, so it was with great
relief that our second Family Fun Day
fell on a rain free Saturday in June!
When The Oakes began, our vision
was to share the Christian message
with children and young people who
had never had the opportunity to
In the early days, most of our group
bookings were from churches, and
our school holiday camps were
generally full of children from church
families who had heard the gospel
Over 300 guests joined us throughout
the day and enjoyed large quantities of
free tea, coffee and yummy cakes.
Guided tours were available and
children could sign up for a variety of
Oakes activities (with an adult).
Sixteen years later and things have
changed. The majority of our group
bookings are now schools, and many
children on our school holiday camps
are pupils who visited with their
school and then chose to return for
Most school pupils who visit have
never heard the gospel before and we
are so grateful for every opportunity
we have to open the Bible and tell
them about Jesus.
Many guests brought a picnic and
invited friends and family to join them.
There was an encouraging interest in
the camps and many bookings were
made on the day.
Next year’s Family Fun Day will be on
Sat, 24 Jun (10am - 4pm). Save the date!
10am 15 Oct, 8 Nov, 21 Mar
Around 50% of the children who
visit The Oakes each year now come
with a school group. Schools visit
throughout the year and pay full
price, which is very reasonable
compared to the cost of residentials
at other centres.
The other 50% come on weekends
and school holiday camps. For these
camps, one thing has remained
consistent over the years — the
summer camps fill up and the rest
usually have spaces.
WEBSITE RELOADED (PLUS ONLINE BOOKING!)
We’re proud to announce the launch of our brand new website!
It’s a completely new and fresh design, built from the bottom up with The
Oakes in mind. We really wanted to give you a visual taste of what we
experience here on a daily basis – even from your armchair. That’s why
we’ve stuffed the new site full of large, fun, action packed photos. We
also pulled out all the stops to create a website that is just as easy to use
on your smartphone as it is on your desktop computer.
This launch follows on from our other recent hi-tech news - you can
now book online for all our school holiday camps and other special
weekends. It’s been a requested feature for a while, and we’re glad
to make it a reality.
Team members also needed from September 2016.
Go to www.oakes.org.uk/team
or even book online!
After much deliberation and some
experimentation with special offers,
we’ve decided to try something new.
We are going to discount some of our
camps to reflect demand. Camps at
the quietest times of the year will be
the cheapest and those during the
busiest months will be full price.
This decision has not been made
from a financial point of view. In
fact, we are fully aware that this may
actually lower the money recieved
through camp fees. However, we are
confident that the decision will result
in more bookings, which means more
opportunities to share the gospel and
that is really exciting!
These reductions are only possible
because of support from one-off gifts
and the Acorn Scheme. “Acorns” are
particularly helpful as they bring in
a regular income which helps us to
budget and keep our prices as low
as possible. If you haven’t already,
please would you consider joining
the scheme (£10/month). Please help
us to reach our target of 1000 by the
20th anniversary of the launching of
the scheme (12 May 2018). Just 103 to
Thank you again to all our supporters.
Our target from the beginning was to
reach 2000 campers each year, and
we are very close to that goal. We are
praying that this new pricing policy
will result in full camps throughout
the year so that our dream will
become a reality.