Most Navigate students and leaders are strangers when they gather for Summer School in January of each year. But it only takes a few days for the group to realise they are forming a new community and embarking on a remarkable year-long journey together.

Thirty-three participants from across NSW and the ACT joined 20 leaders at The Tops Conference Centre from January 19-24 for Summer School 2020, a six-day residential.

“The week always begins with some apprehension – both from the students who have no idea what they’re in for, and from the leaders who are trusting that God is weaving together this community of very different people,” says Navigate coordinator Laura Payne.

Held for the past seven years, Summer School has become the annual gathering and launch for Navigate’s programs, which have been running since 2009. This year participants from Navigate’s Discover, Recharge and Impact programs, as well as the The Tops Internship program were part of the week’s activities.

The Summer School program, which is always kept ‘under wraps’, created an opportunity for participants to explore their faith and story in ways that engaged their minds, hearts and body. The week centred around four pillars – Reading the Word, Gathering for Formation, Understanding the Bible, and Discovering a Kingdom Identity.

“Summer School is a vital week in gathering our Navigate and Tops students together for the very first time each year,” Laura says. “It’s a week of forming a deep and vulnerable community, as well as framing the year’s journey.”

“Our hope is that students walk away with a greater knowledge of their God-given Kingdom identity and a confidence in the work He is beginning in them through the course. And the beauty is that, for each student, the year looks very different. So, we can never foresee the stories that emerge from the week.”

“For me, it is always such an invigorating week. This was my seventh Summer School and yet again, I walked away with immense joy at the transformation I saw God bring about in each student. I also experienced a deepening of my own journey and I feel glad to work and lead in an environment where it’s okay to be ‘in process’ too.”