‘to restore strength and animation to: REVIVE; to freshen up: RENOVATE; to restore or maintain by renewing supply: REPLENISH’ (Merriam-Webster).
Summer is my absolute favorite time of year. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and the beautiful sunsets and sunrises are a showcase of God’s creative brilliance. It’s the perfect time to slow down, refocus, rest and refresh.
It’s also when my favorite week of the summer arrives…Youth Camp!
Picture this, 49 youth and 12 adults (including several FBCA youth alumni) converging in the picturesque heartland of Pennsylvania for five days and four nights- free of distractions! Amazing, right? It gets better though. Each day is intentionally crafted to serve our Youth Ministry’s needs and to provide time to focus on the Lord and fellowship with one another. That’s exactly what happened this past week, June 18-22, at The Refreshing Mountain Retreat Center, for our FBCA Youth and their guests. It was truly a week to remember.
Our 2022 Youth Camp theme was I AM. In seven different worship sessions and three small group discussions, our youth took a deep dive into a greater understanding of who Jesus is, by looking at Jesus’ I AM statements from the book of John. Our Youth were invited to fully trust Jesus and to go to Him as the way, the truth, and the life. We looked at how Jesus fulfills and sustains us, as the Bread of Life. We talked about the loving care of Jesus as The Good Shepherd. We were challenged to seek the Lord in the storms that we will face in life. We were reminded of how Jesus intercedes for us, how He guides us and how He calls us. We experienced what it truly means to be the light of the world.
How does this all happen?
On any given morning, you could look around and see our youth doing their quiet times around the campus with their family groups. Then during our morning sessions, we would wake up with worship, a game and teaching to propel us into our small groups. Then you would see our youth sitting under pavilions or swinging on swings as they intently listened to their adult leaders and engage in their small group discussions as an opportunity to understand and apply every spiritual theme.
Our evenings were once again filled with beautiful worship services led by our worship leaders, Christina Johnson and Brian Pierce and our teaching by our Camp Pastor, Clayton Carnall. I wish you could have heard our voices ring out as we lifted high the Lord in song. It was truly refreshing! I wish you could have seen our youth taking notes during the worship services and then spending time working on journal responses at the close of our evening worship services. Our afternoons were filled with teambuilding activities, outdoor adventures, recreation, and game times! Where it wasn’t unusual to hear several youths on a team calling out another youth’s name to encourage them as they bravely conquered a new adventure.
(Oh, and I should probably share that I too was a recipient of such loving encouragement, as I was persuaded by a lovely, large group of youth to conquer my fear of heights, and to go onto the Giant Swing. Let’s just say that it definitely happened, and I love them for convincing me to take this ‘special’ opportunity to get out of my comfort zone 😊!)
It was fun seeing a high schooler, helping a middle schooler with their form at Archery or with the Sling shots. Or seeing a group meeting together to head to the ever-popular snack shack (we love those milkshakes!) and then head over to a pickup game of soccer, basketball, or volleyball. Then there was our time around the campfire with smores and a special share time and ending camp with the Lord’s Supper, as a family. I could go on and on because there were so many moments filled with laughter, new friendships, faith conversations and amazing memories. There’s nothing like it.
I invite you to ask any of our youth campers and adult volunteers about the Capture the Flag game, their Giant Swing experience, or if they finally hit the mark with archery, or how much they loved ziplining. I invite you to ask any youth camper or adult leader about their favorite song from our worship services and about our epic and moving final evening worship service, lit only by individual candles to remind us that just as Jesus is the Light of the World, we are called to be a light in our world. I invite you to ask any wonderful youth camper or fantastic adult volunteer about how you can pray for them following this time of refreshment and spiritual rejuvenation as they conquer the summer and days ahead.
Every year, it brings my heart immense joy for our youth to spend an undistracted week away and to come home together as a community, as a family. For so many reasons, this year, my prayer was that the Lord would allow Youth Camp to be a time of needed refreshment, peace, joy, laughter, and spiritual encouragement for our youth. The Lord truly brought that together with the wonderful help of our adult leadership team. In the weeks and months to come, please join me in praying that the Lord will continue to grow the seeds with that were planted in our youth family at Youth Camp.
What a terrific post about Youth Camp and the experiences there. Thanks so much for sharing it Shonica. I am so grateful that you and the adult staff took the youth to this special time away from any distractions. Praise the Lord for such a wonderful camp. I will ask our youth about their experiences and I will be praying that what has started at camp grows into a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father. Thank you.