Following on from the final Firm Foundations in 2012 there was a break of a few years before the England and Wales regional committee launched Unite in 2015. ‘Unite’ was advertised as a Christian festival primarily for the over 11 age group and leaders, providing a unique opportunity for young people and leaders across the region to meet, explore their faith in a semi-structured programme of activities.
From 29th to 31st May 2015, 250 young people and leaders met together at Felden Lodge for the first ever Unite camp. The event was advertised as a ‘camp with a difference’ and it really did live up to the expectation. It was a unique opportunity for young people and leaders from across the England Region to meet, explore their faith and enjoy a range of activities together. Like on any camp, there were early mornings and late nights. From Bush tucker trials, inflatables, archery, wide games, quizzes, water games, mocktail masterclass, human hungry hippos, and films, there was plenty to do for everyone. Leaders enjoyed some excellent workshops on Company development, music ideas for the non-musical, ideas for working with under and over 11s, and even an afternoon tea! Campers were grouped into ‘villages’ based on the Unite logo of ‘red’, ‘blue’, and ‘yellow’. Over the weekend the villages competed against each other in a range of activities to win the sought after ‘Best village’ trophy.
Following the success of the first Unite event, The second Unite weekend began with a special opening ceremony, in true Olympic style to celebrate the 2016 Games in Rio. followed by a time of worship together. The speaker for the weekend was Mark Greenwood, an evangelist from the Forty-Three Trust, and worship was led by James Oxford and his band. Sean Clancy and Gareth Hillier, both ‘BB’ Development Workers, were on hand to lead sessions with the 15 to 18 year olds. Throughout the weekend there was a packed programme of activities including inflatables, water games, a camp fire, quizzes, bingo, football, rounders, as well as workshops on drama, street dance, cheerleading and American table football. ‘The Base’ provided an area to chill out and play some games, and the ‘Cornerstone’ was home to our fantastic pastoral team who were there for anyone who wanted to try some arts and crafts, or just wanted a chat. There were also workshops for leaders including programme ideas, international opportunities, a workshop with Mark Greenwood, and an afternoon tea.
Saturday evening’s entertainment consisted of ‘Unite’s Got Talent’, our very own talent show which included singers, comedians, magicians, dancers and more. This was followed by a ‘lip sync battle’ which produced a variety of memorable performances!
The following years saw opportunities to take part in activities such as football, archery, water games, a quiz, a campfire, human Cluedo, escape rooms, zorb football, splat the rat, sponge throwing, coconut shy, and sumo suits. In addition to this, moments of fellowship and worship took place in the main marquee.
In 2019, the principal speaker was Dez Johnston, Director of Alpha Scotland, who spoke on the theme “Avengers: Some Assembly Required!” The BB Gazette reporter noted that Dez said: ‘As someone with limited BB experience I didn’t know what to expect from Unite! I was blown away by the level of involvement in the young people’s thoughts, ideas and even recommendations on how to improve the camp! The team were epic and from a huge spectrum of backgrounds and really demonstrated what it meant to be part of a team to show with integrity what it means to be a Christian today. This is without doubt a huge part of the reason we saw 37 people Become Christians at the weekend! This camp is by far the most focused, diverse and fun camp I have ever been a part of and I have been to loads of camps and weekends! I cannot explain just how amazing it was… in fact I can I am coming back next year and bringing some Scottish groups to see just how amazing it really was!’
However, Unite 2020 was cancelled due to the Corona Virus pandemic, and in 2021 Unite was held as a three-day virtual event on the late May bank holiday weekend, Friday 28th to Sunday 30th May 2021.