A phrase often heard around congregations when talking about Sunday School or youth groups goes something like “Our youth are the church of the future.” Technically this is true; the chances of a 15-year-old being alive in 50 years are a lot better than somebody who is 60 today. But, to say that our youth are the church of the future relegates their impact to some undetermined time. The truth is that our youth are the church of the present day through things like participation in worship, youth groups, Sunday School and outreach ministries of all sorts.
This impact is most certainly seen each year at Mission Camp. For the last 20 years, Laurel Ridge Moravian Camp and Conference Center, with support from the Board of World Mission, has provided a Mission Camp experience that invites congregations to bring their youth group to camp and work on the yards and homes of residents that live in the area.
The camp staff works with local social service agencies to find families in need of help with projects such as replacing ramps and decks, painting and yard work. Participants are housed at Higgins Lodge and enjoy nights on comfortable beds. At the beginning of the week, a training session is held to stress safety while working with power tools. A typical day at mission camp begins with breakfast prepared by the camp staff. Groups then gather their tools and the packed lunches and make their way to the work sites. 3:30 PM is quitting time, and groups return to camp to clean up and enjoy some free time until dinner is served. In the evening, there is a program which this past year was collaboratively written by Sam Gray, Sacha Lambert, Zach Routh, Scarlett Dowdy and Chris Giesler. The writing team also takes turns in leading the program at each of the four scheduled mission camps.
Along with their youth, congregations are asked to send adult chaperones and individuals with some experience doing these types of home projects. This summer, congregations sending their youth groups include Hope, Friedberg, Union Cross, Unity, Home, Estamos Unidos, Konoak Hills and Raleigh. While all of these are Southern Province congregations, others are certainly encouraged to come. For information, go to www.laurelridge.org.
The Board of World Mission is seeking to expand the mission camp model to some of our other Moravian Camp centers. If you would like to help in this process, please contact Chris Giesler at [email protected].