India Youth Camp 2018 (INYC18)
What happens when you help teenagers discover the qualities that God knit inside of them and ask them to use those qualities to minister to others? We’re finding out!
Who: Eighteen 13- to 15-year-olds of both genders. (Approximately 2/3 female and 1/3 male.)
What: Residential (sleep-away) youth camp from Wednesday to Saturday where teens learned about the unique strengths God has placed in their lives (Ps 139:13) and God’s desire for them to use them in their family, school, neighborhood, and church communities starting now (1 Cor 12)!
Denominations Represented: Anglican, Baptist, Independent, Methodist, Pentecostal, and a new church plant
Countries Represented: India, Malaysia, and USA
In the Camper’s Words:
“I loved the exposure to the deeper meaning of the Bible that I discovered. I don’t have to wait until I’m grown up to do what God has for me.”
“It was wonderful to discover our abilities. Amazing to speak our thoughts. To listen to others and learn from others. Learning with no rushing, and learning through activities which make our understanding better.”
Here’s What Happened
In preparation for the camp, each camper took either the StrengthsExplorer (13- and 14-year-olds) or CiftonStrengths (15-year-olds) assessment, and each camper received a personalized report that gave suggestions about how they could use their specific natural talents for the benefit of their family, school, friends, and church communities.
The camp started with a sermon entitled “You Can Do It! And We’ll Help You Do It!,” which highlights that:
- Our innermost beings are wonderfully made (Psalm 139), that
- According to 1 Corinthians 12, all those who are baptized into the body have been given a role to play in the body of Christ regardless of biological age, and that
- Every member of a team is vitally important no matter how small their role may seem in comparison to some other team members (see: Aaron and Hur in Exod 17:8-13).
For many of the campers, this was the first time that anyone had ever encouraged them to be the best versions of themselves that God created them to be. For them, it was life-changing to see that there are characters in the Bible that they are already like and that they have been called by God to perform the role of their body part. Campers who arrived at camp feeling resentful that their parents had made them go to Bible camp during school break left camp begging us to do another one as soon as possible.
In the Camper’s Words:
“Camp helped me to understand how I can use my strengths that I have discovered. I did not know these strengths were in me. Now I realize they are already in me.”
“For the first time, I was able to see and accept myself for who I am. I didn’t have to follow what others expected me to do. I used to feel guilty when others said I let them down. My strengths are how God made me.”
A Few Details
Throughout the week, the campers were exposed to the Scripture, a biblical worldview, and the love of their “Camp Parents” (teachers and counselors) and were given opportunities to practice what they had learned through different kinds of activities.
Evangelism Explosion: Sandra “Granny” Etheridge taught campers how to share their faith with their friends.
Health and Wellness: WCCM Board Member and Registered Nurse Stephanie Leake provided training in “Health and Hygiene 101” and “Nutrition 101.”
Relationships: WCCM Board Member Kevin Wilson bunked with the male campers. (They were so excited and could hardly believe it!)
Voted Best Activity: “Escape Room” activity where each cabin had to use their strengths in a team setting to solve puzzles and win cabin points for the week. The activity, led by Board Member Michelle Wilson, helped each camper put into action the information they had learned about the unique qualities of themselves and their cabinmates throughout the week.
In the Camper’s Words:
“I realized at camp that I could do some things which I was always afraid of. I have more confidence to aim for big things in life.”
“The camp was the most fun time I’ve ever had. I got to understand a lot of things about myself and how God has made me special.”
“To put it in one word, it was a blessing! It helped me feel good about myself. I came to know more about scriptures and about God in me. I have been very thankful in the past month.”
Here’s What We’re Most Excited About
While these immediate outcomes are very exciting, we are most excited to see the long-term return on this investment. We have experience in India showing young people that God equips all those who will answer His call and not only those who are married, have graduated college, begun their career, or have reached some other arbitrary life marker.
Over the last 20 years, we have seen teens this same age feel empowered for the first time in their lives to become pastors, music ministers, and enter other areas of ministry, and today they are fulfilling their calling in these areas of ministry.
Based on the feedback we have already received from both campers and their parents, we anticipate that our attendees will, at a minimum, double next year, and we will see more and more teens commit themselves to the ministerial calling that God has put on every person who has been baptized into the body.