Thank you for your prayers during youth camp! I wanted to share the short and long recap of our recent Youth Camp: “From Now Until Eternity.”
Here’s the short story:
- 290 of us went up the mountain (240 teens & 50 adults)
- 100 salvations on the first night!
- 60+ baptisms occurred right after our Fri PM service
- Blue Team, The Infinity Squad, pulled in from behind and took the Camp Trophy!
- 700+ balloons were popped, teens rode 5 inflatable animals, thousands of paint balls were launched, and hundreds of teens prayed for over each other.
- Two of our other Rock Campuses attended with us! (Coachella Valley and Riverside)
- After helping facilitate youth camps for 16 years, this was unique among them all.
Thank you all for helping this to be our greatest camp yet!
For those that want a couple details:
The past year has been heavy on building relationships in our youth ministry, and it definitely showed in this year’s camp atmosphere. Mostly in how interactive our sessions were with teens talking about the word with one another, and even during our final night, have teens pray out loud over each other. The testimonies were unique this year in that teens shared, “I’ve never prayed for anyone before and didn’t think I could do that - but I did and now I can!”
Our orientation service began with a spontaneous dance party in the youth auditorium and was a great kickoff. On the way up the mountain, we had a bus breakdown (“ugh”, right!?) but when we sent our vans down to pick up the kids, they were laughing and told me as they exited the bus, how they got to know each other better and talk. As a youth pastor, I was pleasantly surprised! Several challenges with some attitudes rose up in teens (it IS a camp full of teens) but our admin and cabin leadership was so active and on point, we were able to shepherd our teens through the conflicts, talk the truth in love, and help resolve the challenges. One teen approached me the next morning and told me how he decided to forgive and work it out with another on their own after our talk.
Camp was filled with activities and times of building relationships with friends that would encourage each other: paintball, archery, ropes courses, and competitions that got our students screaming and yelling. It was a fierce roller coaster of finding flamingoes and throwing water balloons, dodging water hoses and running through the grass riding water-filled tarps. All to bring home the victory of getting your team name etched into our annual Camp “Scram-Ball” Trophy. A small, but timeless piece of glory to behold. It created an atmosphere that helped to bring out the champion in our teens.
The Friday night, Pastor Michelle brought a strong word about being courageous in light of life’s challenges. She encouraged the teens to see their biggest obstacles as the biggest opportunity by sharing about one of King David’s mighty men, Benaiah and his victories (1 Chron 11.22-26). Saturday morning had Pastor Joe and his wife, Marnie Valcarcel, shared with the guys and the girls, separately, about specific things each gender can face growing up. I had the privilege to talk during the final evening about living in light of eternity, making choices that honor God, and how to see beyond now and focus on the things in our life that truly matter. The worship just would not quit both nights and the students came up hungry for God’s presence.
As we are a week out from Youth Camp we’ve heard numerous stories of teens not only being encourage, healed, overcoming self-doubt and insecurities, but many teens having a new sense of boldness towards their faith. There were several opportunities that many teens took to pray out loud for each other. We had students on our Sunday and Wednesday night’s after camp share encouraging words from the stage and they brought the heat! Coming into this next school year, the youth team is excited to see what’s next for our youth ministry and the next generation of young believers.
I can’t wait to see what’s next for us! We’ve already started setting dates for next year’s camps… with plenty of new and exciting details I can’t wait to share with the church.