L–abri Wilderness School
Date of camp: 3 “5 June
L–abri staff: Mbongi, Angela, Denis
Participants: YFC staff that responded to our advert
Report by: Angela Hough, L–abri coordinator
To provide a space of caring for people who are always caring for others
To share stories of stress, related to the work we do, and stories of hope
To allow time for personal reflection and rest and a re-connection to self
To allow for some understanding of the cumulative stress of the work we do in working with populations that are under-resourced in many ways “financial, social, emotional
To provide a space for YFC staff in different programmes to connect with each other and provide support to each other.
Introductions and discussing ground rules “such as respect for each other, respect for silence, active listening.
Time for personal reflection “quiet self time
Sharing stories about where we are at now
Themes of stories included:
Feeling overwhelmed by load of responsibility and multiple roles in which others depend on me.
“The burden of responsibility feels quite heavy, there are so many roles I fulfill, which include work, being the breadwinner, supporting difficult situations at home, that I feel quite overwhelmed.”
” I feel stressed out and confused about my responsibilities. I feel I am depended upon, and feel helpless. I have so many roles.”
–I am stressed by having too many roles for too long. I feel pulled in so many directions that I do not have time to be me. I have to put on a mask to deal with it all.”
Being at a crossroads and feeling overwhelmed by changes and big decisions:
“Things are not certain. Questions are taking over my life and I feel I have no control over these and feel powerless and anxious.”
–I like my space and have moved away from home, but this causes huge stress in the family.”
–I am at a crossroads. I feel worried and stressed and have many questions about the decisions I have to make.”
–I want to sort out my problem.”
Giving to people all the time and guilt when we have and others don–t:
” I always put other people first, so I don’t have time to be me. I give what I have but I still feel guilty for having when others don’t. There are so many people who are in trouble.”
–I feel like a growing person. I feel stressed when I am not challenged.”
Physical manifestations of stress: in headaches, shoulder tension, feeling tired and heavy.
Circle of connection and sharing and holding for each other made clear through a circle holding each others” shoulders with right hands and offering our left hands out.
Time to connect and rest.
Breakfast (porridge and EAUP)
Clay work session.
First write on piece of paper one thing that is
difficult at work “anonymous. These all put out for everyone to
Break into pairs “show partner where and how you feel your stress physically “the partner then has to act/demonstrate/model the other person's stress
Individually to model out of clay their stress.
Then asked to give their lay model a name.
Then in a group sharing process people were asked to speak as their model and explain when they come out, how they feel, etc.
Feeling split between two competing sides to self, one obligation based, one a true self that enjoys the work; and needing to give both space and do more of what one likes.
Feeling trapped by circumstances, not being able to see a way across, but believing that there will be.
Feeling trapped and in a box, with many things inhibiting a journey forward. Feeling in darkness but knowing there is light.
Feeling as if the burden is too heavy and one’s home (self) is left neglected.
Wanting independence from a parent but fearing hurting that person and fearing his not believing that it is important for her.
Feeling overburdened and childlike, wanting to have fun again and to spend time with friends and doing things for self.
Feeling overwhelmed by huge decisions and the implication of those decisions for self and others. Trying to listen for what is good for self, but not being able to hear for all the voices from other people.
Feeling afraid if something is not perfect. Perfection means being accepted, but knowing that as humans we can’t be perfect and then that fear of imperfection hooking into interactions with others.
Feeling like a receptacle for others and their problems. This role is important and good but too much. Fearing if she limits that then she will not be kind or liked.
This exercise is very deep and personal. People, by speaking in the voice of their figure, deeply connect to an often-abandoned part of their self. They feel deep sadness and relief for connecting to themselves again. It must be done with care that people have time for not leaving that vulnerability open and raw. People usually allow themselves to feel for him/her self and to nurture the neglected self.
Free time to rest after deeply emotional morning session.
Met late in afternoon.
We discussed the metaphor of the cup in terms of needing to fill ours so that we can continue the work, and that this is not “selfish”.
We reflected on ways we can self-care and made a list of self care activities, and reflected on the need for some aspects of balance between our physical, emotional, social and spiritual lives.
Each person was then asked to write a letter from their clay object to himself or herself explaining what they discovered today and saying what they will do to care for themselves. These will be posted to the individuals in a few weeks time to serve as a reminder of what they learnt and to self care and a reminder of a connection to themselves not dictated by others needs but their own. People really enjoyed this exercise and it helped consolidate the morning session.
Discussion of silence over night.
Silence over night.
Breakfast (EAUP and porridge) in silence.
Walk to river and back.
Reflection and sharing on silence and walk to river.
People had really enjoyed the walk, getting out, the peace, the beauty of nature and the exercise. People had found the silence initially difficult. It felt as if one was being rude, or one worried what others thought, but it was really nice to have space to just think about all the thoughts that came to mind, personal issues etc.
Evaluation of the three days
This was valued as important time for them. They enjoyed the support for each other and the time it gave them. They felt that group supervision/debriefing/support was important if supportive. They felt that others should be given this opportunity too.
Affirmation fans “on fans of paper each person wrote a positive comment or supportive comment based on the last few days together for each other. These were received very positively.
Closing ritual to mark end of this session.
I believe that this was a deep process and was supportive, gentle and provided holding for people and created space to connect to selves and to begin to see a way forward. I would like to continue to offer these camps for staff.