I was 18 years old and I had more than my share of adolescent arrogance.
With a small band of camp friends, I was doing my best to present a case that the current camp director was completely out of touch with us as campers. In one of the greatest ironies of my life, two years later, I ended up being that camp director. As you might imagine, one of my top priorities was to give voice to the young people. These many years later, I am still committed to advocating for space at the table for young people.
In response to the mass shooting in Florida, young people from across the nation are requesting a seat at the table to discuss how our country can more effectively respond to the epidemic of gun violence. I, for one, could not be more proud of young people demanding to be a part of the solution. In my many decades of collaborating with young people, I can tell you unequivocally that the passion, creativity and fresh perspective that they have brought has been nothing short of incredible.
Three years ago, ECMN launched Quest Camp. Quest lives into it’s name by offering young people a chance to choose different outdoor challenges for themselves, all the while holding them in the safety of a camp community. This is a powerful recipe for discovering giftedness. For most of the young people, Quest Camp 2015 was the first time that they had ventured out to a camp or youth gathering outside of their local faith community. That summer, two transformative things took place. First, they bonded as a community. Second, they asked for more opportunities to gather and grow together. The great news is that your Missioner for Children, Youth and Camp, Sarah Barnett, is a well seasoned veteran of working WITH young people and knew the most appropriate way to respond was to create a space, a youth commission, for them to share their hopes and dreams.
On April 13-15 these young people and the adults who walk with them will be offering the first ECMN TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) retreat. Designed and facilitated by the young people, their hope is to gather youth from across ECMN to be a part of faith, fun and fellowship. I could not be prouder of our young people, who not only were clear with what they felt called to create but they have taken full responsibility for making it happen. Information on the weekend can be found here www.episcopalmn.org/tec or you can contact Sarah at Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an increasingly challenging world, as I witness the passions of young people springing forth, I hope you are able to join with me in supporting and celebrating this hopefulness.