Detached youthwork and pokemon go!

Whoo hoo! Young people are not inside playing on xboxes! !!

They’re now outside wondering around wiggling their phones around, meeting at points and buildings finding pokemons and spots. Collecting items and having battles, and playing Pokemon Go! a game that is using the public space as the landscape for a series of challenges and interactions.

At least they’re outside.

So, what to do on detached?

Find the spots and wait for the young people to arrive? – could do

Set up a mobile Charlie brown like lemonade stall and give out drinks at the spots?

What it means is that young people are as much in the space of the streets as the driver is who is only following sat nav. The world is a game to be guided in by GPS, 4G and a camera.

For the detached youthworker we might see young people who wouldn’t normally be around or used to the outside space. Places that have their own cultures , rules and territories, being momentarily taken over by a new phase.

Given the conversational nature of detached, we get to hear the fads and fashions as young people tell us when they adopt them, yet this feels different in that its taking the game to the streets and reshaping how the street is viewed.

What about interrupting the pokemon players.. is it advised? , I guess we have to be even more conscious of stating who we are to them which we should anyway. But we would be interrupting and is this wise?

And if we’re aware of being strangers to young people finding the space, it’ll be worth being vigilant of those who might take advantage of the space and contact young people who might do harm. But then there’s always an element of protecting young people on detached so this is no different.  Maybe we help them when they can’t find locations, or walk into lampposts…?

The good thing is that young people might be out and about, yet they’re not really bored in the space or even showing the body language to be approached in cold contact so engagement is likely to be limited. Unless of course we can help them find their next spots or zone, and Detached youthwork has always also had that element of helping people find their way.

Maybe if we can’t beat them, join them.

Remembering that not every young person is playing and can have access to play. And conversation with the regular young people might still be more appropriate. Will the gamers just be part of the outdoor culture for a little while. Effectively what Nintendo wii was for serious gaming. Just a hobby or passing interest.

How long might it last, can we really see young people playing in cold northern cities in November?  Maybe, but the summer might be interesting..

Tonight it felt like we joined in with God already at work in the world

Doing detached youthwork for Durham Youth for Christ is often a challenging mix of combining the skills and approaches of youthwork on the streets, and also being available to be involved in moments where young people might explore faith. From a mission point of view we’ve tried to embrace the thinking that instead of being the agents of God in the world, and have this responsibility, to try and discover the moments of God already at work in the spaces, the signs and symbols and people, families and conversations. Tonight this was fairly easy.

We met a large (ish) group of young people who were being entertained by an older male & female, the male had bought a horse, the female sitting on a step next to flats. After a while of random banter, random banter not always with us, but it would have been awkward to leave, the older female called us over.

She explained aspects of her life, moments when she had heard testimonies of people who had told her of their dramatic changes attributed to Jesus (such as healings) and whether id believed them. She also wanted to know if Hitler and Paedophiles would be in heaven, or could be. And why God would make this possible. She went on to describe the unfairness of her life, and struggles shed faced.

All the while my conversation with her was in the midst of a group of young people. And also distracted by the male asking if i wanted a horse, or ride it. (he had bought a horse that day).

Maybe its too obvious to say how God was at work this evening, but maybe being out on the streets gives the possibility to be available to conversation with young people, and adults struggling to make sense of their lives. People wanting to have conversation and be listened to, especially in the supposed unconventional or unsociable times of the day.

Where might God be at work in the world tomorrow I wonder….

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