Camp Season in Full Swing
Where are all the young people these days? Summer camp! Summer camps for young Unificationists aim to create healthy, supportive and fun environments where the youth can grow and discover their faith. Here’s a look at just some of the exciting programs that recently wrapped up around the country:
Over 40 students ranging in age gathered in Boone, Iowa at the Y-camp on July 5-11, 2015 for Camp Agape. Creators Christelle Karnowski, Jordan Anglin and Alex Pehling structured the lessons around the 7-day Divine Principle workshop content and focused on the theme of “Culture Our Hearts.” From their small communities spread out over many states, it was a unique chance for the young people to get together with others of their faith community.
Participants enjoyed engaging presentations and activities focused on relationships, teamwork and fellowship. One particular activity involved planting a seed into a pot that represented something or someone they wanted to invest in and love. Participants also took the love language test to find out how they each experience and give love.
One participant said, “I feel blessed to be able to recognize God in that moment. It’s a continuous work in progress for me to constantly recognize God, but Camp Agape gave me a memory and experience that I will remember for years to come.”
Overall, everyone left with a feeling of acceptance, new concepts of relationships, and the physical and spiritual seeds for growth beyond the program.
Miilhan Stephens, Vice President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) USA said, “I was energized by my recent visit to the middle school workshop at Camp Sunrise this past week.” Emily Zochol, a young Unificationist and program director, shared with him the overall vision for the camp to continue to train counselors and raise up leaders, and to provide an environment where children can learn about and feel the love of God. This year, there were even several non-Unificationist children attending.
Through personal testimonies, question and answer sessions, and special activities, the participants were able to gain insights from their older peers and explore their own beliefs and understanding.
The feeling of love was apparent as Miilhan witnessed some of the activities. “Written on the large sheets of paper taped on the wall in the lecture hall were prayers for their family members and neighbors for peace and blessings. Some expressed deep concern for their parents who fight, are overworked and stressed out. One expressed sadness about them going through a divorce and just prayed for God’s love for them. These are our young people, the next generation.”
Camp continues this week and will soon get ready for the high school workshop. Participants and staff look forward to many more engaging activities, presentations, and experiences in the days to come.
Shehaqua Vision Quest
From June 30 – July 17, 2015, 16 young people embarked on a unique adventure. Vision Quest began four years ago as an offshoot program of Shehaqua Family Camps. Specifically geared toward teens, this two and a half week road trip takes high school students and staff on an epic journey that will challenge and inspire.
The purpose of the trip is to learn about leadership, challenge participants through outdoor adventure, and give back through community service. This year, sixteen participants and five staff from New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Michigan gathered in Philadelphia for three days of fundraising over the July 4th weekend with American flags. “Fundraising helps the participants really own their experience and lightens their financial burden,” said Kyra Moyer, director of this year’s program.
Next, the group traveled to Gloucester, MA, where they volunteered at historic Morning Garden, explored downtown, and relaxed at the beach. Their next stop was a climb up Mt. Carrigain in the White Mountains, New Hampshire. “Although the experience was physically challenging, it taught everyone to persevere and not give up. The view from the summit was breathtaking and made every vertical inch worth the effort,” said Kyra.
From there, the group drove to Acadia National Park in Maine, where they worked with Friends of Acadai to do trail maintenance. By day, the teens worked hard, weilding shovels and picks to dig drainage ditches for the trails. In the afternoons, they took a much needed break at the lake and exploring the caves along the coast.
The program ended at Camp Shehaqua, where the participants helped set up for the camp and some stayed on to be leaders for the first week of Family Camp. Throughout the trip, each participant had the chance to be Leader of the Day. They learned what it means to take responsibility for others and how to make sure the schedule ran smoothly. The program forged close friendships and an unforgettable experience that will equip them with skills they can use in future programs or to make a difference in their own communities.
Find out more about Vision Quest and sign up for 2016 here: shehaquavisionquest.com.