440 survive Boot Camp

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Wind, rain and Holy Spirit visit Boot Camp ’08.

by Jennifer Arens and Jeff Curnow –

Impact leads worship inside the tent at Boot Camp 2008.

More than 440 youth workers and officers from all over the Western Territory converged on Southern California’s Camps Mt. Crags and Gilmore for training, encouragement and inspiration at the weeklong second Territorial Boot Camp.

Many came hoping to have souls refreshed and information shared in the plenary sessions, breakout seminars and discussion groups. They left commenting on the “awe-inspiring nature of the best conference ever attended.”

Although wind and rain were relentless, the Holy Spirit moved in a mighty way and God’s work was complete before nature eventually forced an early end on Sunday morning.

Jim Sparks, territorial youth development and leadership director, attributed the success of the week to the power of prayer, the quality of the speakers, the ideas generated in the workshops and the networking required as people congregated escaping the rain.

General sessions included such topics as: Understanding Youth Culture, Marketing Your Church to the Neighborhood, Urban Youth Leadership, Rejuvenating Your Ministry, Preparing Youth for the Social and Intellectual Pressures of College, and Developing Disciples.

Commissioner Philip Swyers, territorial commander, initiated the theme of the conference in his keynote address on Possibility Thinking—the potential effectiveness of an Army with spirit-filled and well-trained leaders.

Aaron White, corps sergeant major of 614 Vancouver (Canada), talked about prayer each evening. On the last night he asked all the delegates to pair up and pray openly for one another, for the Army and for our ministries. After a short time, two pairs joined and slowly, throughout the evening, the groups doubled until they finally included the entire camp. He encouraged delegates to place their hands on the tent’s walls and pray outwardly as they faced all corners of the earth.

God spoke in a mighty way to everyone—youth workers from the inner city or large traditional suburban corps. We were given the opportunity to spend daily time with other youth workers and officers from our divisions and we were asked specific questions in small group discussions. One of the most powerful moments of the networking time was when we talked about where the front lines of our communities were and then discussed how close our ministry is to the front lines. It was humbling to realize how much more can be done on the front lines and it was a practical exercise in understanding how far we have come from our early Army roots.

Several delegates commented favorably on the weekend. Major Robert Birks, corps officer at the Seattle Temple Corps said, “I thought Boot Camp was one of—if the THE—best events on ministry I have attended in over 20 years. The level of speakers and presenters was unbelievable. The organization and preparedness made the experience an awesome one for me and the three delegates who accompanied me.”

Another delegate stated: “I, and so many other youth leaders of The Salvation Army left Boot Camp equipped with ideas, resources, and knowledge to further our communication with children. We were also encouraged in our faith to persevere when times are tough, to be obedient to God’s vision for us, and to assist in leading youth under God’s will.
“Most importantly, we were reminded of our mission, our calling, and our purpose: to build relationships with, care for, disciple, and show Christ’s love to the youth in our communities. We can’t do it alone—only by the grace, power, and strength of Jesus Christ.”

Although goodbyes were hurried, each delegate left with a sense that God’s work here was done. While ending the weekend with a holiness meeting was the original plan, God had seen fit to send his workers back into the world in a spirit of unity steeped in prayer.

You can listen to the seminars on the Boot Camp mini-site through SAYCONNECT.com. Check out video clips at SAYTV, www.veoh.com/users/saytv.

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