When we talk about our faith, we become more faithful people. Dr. Amanda Drury will present about the power of our story. She'll share why and how it is important to create an environment where young people learn to tell their story and share their faith, to each other, to the church and to the world.
A very special thanks to Museum of the Bible for sponsoring our Youth Worker Training Events:
I’ve worked at Youthfront Camp West for three summers now and it has become something I eagerly look forward to every summer. I first began working for Youthfront in the summer of 2014 after I decided that I wanted to work for something that I felt would matter and have a lasting impact on people’s lives. Youthfront has definitely met that hope.
There are many reasons I enjoy Youthfront and being a part of the summer staff. One of those reasons is meeting and becoming familiar with fellow summer staff. Everyone has a story, and something to offer the world from their life experiences. I enjoy hearing those stories and seeing how God works in people’s lives to accomplish His ends. I also love seeing the sacrifices people make to provide an opportunity for young students to hear the gospel. A lot of staff work very hard at their jobs, sometimes even when they don’t feel like it. We don’t always get to see the results of that hard work, but there is an enormous satisfaction in knowing that what we do matters in the lives of kids and has the potential to create a lasting impact on their spiritual journey.
I also think the atmosphere at Youthfront is a great example to churches and ministries. Even though different staff members might disagree about particulars in regards to faith, we all rally behind the goal of telling kids about Christ in a fun and safe environment. I have always felt accepted and encouraged as a person at Youthfront regardless of any of my traits or characteristics, and I think that is an amazing way Youthfront demonstrates their commitment to loving others as Christ loves us. Everyone has a place and can contribute in a very meaningful way to the mission of Youthfront.
Robbie Hotz, Ropes Course Supervisor at Youthfront Camp West
My first year on Teen Staff was the summer before my sophomore year. I had heard about it from a friend of mine. Before she told me about it, I didn’t know Youthfront camps existed, but after listening to her talk about her experiences, I knew it was something that I needed to be a part of. My first summer, I dove in head first and volunteered for five weeks. My life changed my first week of Teen Staff. It was during that first week that I truly felt The Lord’s presence in my life. The spiritual formations that we do everyday have helped me learn how to set aside time during the day to be in the Word and also how to find God in everything.
One other important thing that I have learned through my experience is how to live in a community with other people. I have been blessed to be able to spend these past three summers surrounded by other believers. Every person at camp is there for a common purpose, and that is to worship God through service. I have learned so much from the people around me, whether it is a Summer Staffer sharing a life experience with me, or a fellow Teen Staffer sitting down with me and just talking about life and Jesus. Youthfront is not just a camp; it is a community of encouragement.
Teen Staff is one of the hardest things I have ever done both emotionally and physically. We work…A LOT, but it is the most rewarding work I have ever done. I have learned a lot about myself through this program. I have learned that praising God through service is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Also, that God definitely places people in our lives for a reason. Finally, I have learned that God can truly be seen in everyone and everything, and that it is definitely possible to survive on ZERO sleep and crummy camp coffee.
So, I guess to sum it up, God is good and His hand is definitely in Teen Staff and throughout the rest of the camp. The Lord has created such a special place in the middle of nowhere Kansas, and it is only through His grace that I have been able to be a part of it.
MaryJane Palodichuk, Teen Staff at Youthfront Camp West
This is a guest post from Mac Maser, Sports Supervisor at Youthfront Camp West
This is my fourth summer on staff at Youthfront Camp West and my third summer as a Sports Supervisor. I am going to be a fifth year senior at the University of Iowa studying Electrical Engineering. My first Youthfront experience was back in 2009 as a camper at Youthfront LaCygne. I camped at Youthfront LaCygne all throughout high school and it is where I first gave my life to Christ. I grew up in a Christian home and had learned about God, but I grew up thinking that there were a limited number of ways to worship God; you can worship through prayer, song, or studying scripture, but God is separate from the rest of your life. Camp is the place that taught me that we can also worship through our playfulness and having childlike curiosity.
After my last year of camping, I came on staff at West as a Cabin Leader. As a camper, I always looked up to the Sports Guys so that was always my dream job. They were always having fun and got to be in the tower of power for Nightstrike (there’s nothing cooler than that). Now, I’ve had the privilege of being one for three years.
My favorite part of my job is that I get to be goofy and carefree with hundreds of campers every week in a safe, Christ-loving, intentional environment. I get to witness the joy of Christ shine through these students as they have fun dancing to worship songs, playing with their friends on the Splash Park, singing along to Disney songs at dinner, and so many more activities. Even if they don’t realize it now, they are worshiping and spreading the love of Christ just by being themselves and having fun. These students are at a critical point in their lives where they are figuring out who they are and wanting to find their identity in something that makes them feel secure. Watching campers come out of their shell throughout the week and have fun is proof of Christ’s love for us and the reason I keep coming back every summer.
The losses in our lives are both big and small, and cover a range of experiences. We leave home. We experience physical illness and disabilities. We struggle with vocation and finances. We may long for a spouse or child. We lose people we love to addiction or illness and death. Following is a video featuring my dear friend and colleague Beth Slevcove talking about her new book Broken Hallelujahs. Below is the endorsement I wrote for the publisher, IVP.
"The beautifully fashioned sentences throughout Broken Hallelujahs summon deep contemplation and provoke a wrestling with the realities of our mysterious lives. What is truly refreshing about Broken Hallelujahs is the absence of sentimentalism. However, with a timely cadence, this book moved me to tears – tears of grief, tears of loss and lament, but also tears of joyfulness and gratitude. Beth’s willingness to be vulnerable and to call a thing what it is gave me permission to sink into the profound truth that Jesus Christ shows us it is truly human to sometimes cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Broken Hallelujahs ministered to my soul like a Balm of Gilead. I often say, “Wouldn’t it be great if Christians were known in our culture as the people who set aside syrupy platitudes and told the truth about pain, loss and death.” Death is the enemy, but that is not the end of the story… I love this book and hope you take care of your soul by reading this astonishing story."
Mike King, President/CEO, Youthfront; author of Presence Centered Youth Ministry; Twitter @MDKing
The community at LaCygne made me feel safe and comfortable.
People were checking on me and inviting me to activities. I felt like I could walk up to anyone, start a conversation and they would accept me. I want to go back because I loved the experience of community and getting to know others more.
I also really like the environment - especially the Snack Shack and the Blob which were amazing!
I plan to be a volunteer next summer and help create community for others.
I spent some time reflecting over the weekend on what a great year 2015 was. For me, the year was EPIC. Here are the top ten reasons why 2015 will be long remembered. I did not list these ten in order of significance (that would have taken several more days to contemplate that) although #1 is pretty much #1.
#1 – Vicki and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We were high school sweethearts and got married at semester break during my first year in college. I married my best friend and she is still my best friend today… that makes for a great life.
#2 – I celebrated my 40th anniversary of being on the staff of Youthfront. I came on staff part-time right out of high school and soon became a full-time staff member while I finished college and earned two Masters degrees. I am so fortunate to get to work for such a great organization with amazing and wonderful friends.
#3 – Our oldest granddaughter, Lexi, attended Youthfront camp this summer for the first time as a camper. That was awesome.
#4 – Our son, Daniel married Mariel, this year and we are happy to have her as a daughter-in-law.
#5 – The San Francisco Giants paid travel and lodging for Vicki and me to come to the Giants final game of the season at AT&T Park to be with the Affeldt Family on the field for a forty-five minute retirement celebration ceremony for Jeremy Affeldt. I met Jeremy when he played for the Royals and we became close friends and partners in ministry. Our friendship survived Jeremy being the winning pitcher in Game Seven of last year’s World Series when the Giants beat the Royals. Jeremy was the first to call and congratulate me when the Royals won this year.
#6 – Several days after returning from the amazing experience at AT&T Park with Jeremy Affeldt and the Giants, the Royals called and informed me that they were honoring me for my 40 years of public service by having me sit in the Buck O’Neil seat behind home plate. The Royals produced a video of my Youthfront ministry highlights, provided premium seats for my family, and treated me like royalty. And this all happened as the Royals won game five against the Houston Astros. Watching Johnny Cueto pitch his masterpiece behind home plate was extraordinary. Twice during the night they put my family on the Jumbo tron and ran the video about my ministry. What an amazing night.
#7 – The Kansas City Royals win the World Series. I’ve wanted my family to experience what it’s like to win the World Series like I did thirty years ago in 1985. The parade in 1985 was great but the celebration in 2015 with 800,000 people gathered downtown was EPIC.
#8 – For the last couple of years I have served as a Senior Advisor Consultant for the Museum of the Bible that will be opening in Washington, D.C. in November of 2017. Recently, I secured a significant and generous planning grant from the John Templeton Foundation on behalf of the Museum of the Bible. I will be able to lead a process to explore the issue of science and the scripture as literature. Here are excerpts from the executive summary, “A narrative has developed in the Western world that scripture and science are incompatible. Many believe science has shown the Bible to no longer be relevant and even responsible for holding back human progress. There are also those who believe that scripture necessitates an adversarial position against science. While elements of this narrative are certainly understandable in our current cultural milieu, we believe they are mistaken and damaging. The MOTB has an opportunity to help overcome these misleading views. This project will produce a detailed plan for compelling exhibits focusing on science and the Bible and create a fully developed proposal for the John Templeton Foundation requesting support to implement the plans. We believe the stakes are high if the presentation of the Bible and Science relationship is not informative and intelligent.” I feel this has potential to change the conversation about the relationship between scripture and science.
#9 – In June we completed a four-year, $4.5 million capital campaign at Youthfront Camp West. This will go down as one of the biggest highlights and most significant accomplishments of my lifetime. My spiritual life was transformed at this camp forty plus years ago. I’m so thrilled that the facilities are so amazing and well constructed that young people will be transformed at Youthfront Camp West long after I’m dead and gone. I feel so fulfilled and blessed by the success of this campaign and construction completion.
#10 – There were too many other great things from 2015 to just pick one, so here is my miscellaneous category. * I made my 22nd visit to the Middle East in May, this time on a VIP trip with a small team from Museum of the Bible. * The Chiefs make the playoffs. * In December, Vicki and I visited Micah and Samantha, who are now living in Cabo San Lucas. * In January, I attended the International Association of Youth Ministry Educators Conference in Cambridge, UK. * Featured in a Cover Story in the Youthworker Journal. * Just about every time we are with our grandkids is a GOOD TIME.
My experience at LaCygne has been powerful for my spiritual life.
I went on several hikes and worshiped God in nature unlike any other experience I've ever had. The daily worship, scripture and prayer times combined with the environment of the prayer space were impactful providing me peace and a strong connection to God. Whenever I go to LaCygne I leave feeling reassured in my spirituality and focused on my priorities.
I come home feeling like my experience at LaCygne prepared me for every day life as a teenager who wants to follow Christ.
I went to LaCygne by myself and didn't really know anyone. It was a chance to meet new people - a lot to do every day and I loved that the activities were optional.
One night after an evening gathering, they surprised us with the "Fugitives" game. It required us to run around in the pitch black dark, looking for clues and avoiding the other team. The combination of the surprise factor (out of the ordinary) and the high stakes made it feel like the Hunger Games. It was really awesome, we were scared and laughing at the same time!
Fugitives actually helped me bond with some other girls and I made life long friends.