It may not have been blue, but the sky was the limit for a group of 17 young people and their four youth workers when they visited Minsteracres this week.

Although they have been before for day-long visits and with family groups, this was the first three-day summer residential here for the young people’s group of The Blue Sky Trust which supports people affected by HIV.

Supporting the youth workers were a small band of Minsteracres’ outreach volunteers, while staff from the Consett YMCA provided outdoor activities like archery, den building and bushcraft. Especially popular was the night line, where a person is blindfold and follows a rope line through the woodland. “You really have to trust your senses and the other people in the group to guide you safely round the course,” said one of the youngsters.

Liz Holmes, Minsteracres’ outreach coordinator, said, “We loved having the group. They brought so much life, fun, music and laughter to Minsteracres. I felt like a kipper at the end of yesterday, what with the fires they lit in the woodland and then cooking army rations and toasting marshmallows!”

Liz Hume, one of Liz’s team of outreach volunteers, held a baking session, after which not a crumb of fairy cake remained! “They were a really lovely group,” she said.

Tess Gooch and Moira Waugh, two more of Liz’s team on hand in the dining room agreed, “They were full of energy, exuberance and vitality – they really brought life to the place!”

For their part, Catherine Dufton and Ben Oliver who accompanied the group, could not praise the volunteers enough, “Having a meal served by people who smiled and got involved really made it. Moira and Tess were lovely, and really went the extra mile for us,” said Ben.

“It really quickly felt like home,” added Catherine. “Well done everyone on a fab together fest 2015! Thanks for getting stuck in and making it so special. Many lovely memories were made. Let’s hope there’s many more together fests.”

Minsteracres’ famous tranquillity found a mention in the feedback. “One of the guys said he’d never been anywhere as peaceful as this,” said Ben, “And I have to agree.”

“I love the range of activities, and how flexible everyone is – they just make it happen. They have made a real memory that’ll last for ever.”