Boot Camp ’05

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by Lisa Smith, Captain – 

COMMISSIONER PHILIP SWYERS and Captain Kyle Smith address Boot Camp delegates.

“We are at war—and it’s a war for the souls of our children and youth.”
That statement kicked off the Territorial Youth Leaders’ Training Boot Camp as 270 delegates and staff gathered at Camp Redwood Glen, Calif., last week to prepare for battle. The agenda: To hone battle skills, to get to know the battle gear, to learn from fellow soldiers, to recognize the enemy, and most importantly, to heed our “drill sergeant”—no, not the territorial youth secretary, but rather Jesus Christ himself.

That first evening, delegates agreed that while at Boot Camp they would respond to Jesus in the affirmative with a resounding “Sir, yes, sir!” and to immediately put into action their response to his leading.
The week, led by Jim Sparks, territorial youth development and leadership director, and the territorial youth department staff, was full of practical training and teaching. “This is boot camp!” was the response when some questioned the heavy schedule.

Salvationist experts were brought in to provide intensive practical training in program essentials related to Salvation Army youth programs such as junior soldiers, corps cadets, YPL, Sunbeams, Girl Guards, Adventure Corps, and summer ministries. Electives were also offered, giving further training in general areas like discipline techniques, youth culture, student-led cell groups, and using sports, drama, or media in youth ministry.

Leadership workshops were design-ed to hone delegates’ leadership skills and included teaching on
cross-cultural youth ministry, recruiting and training of leaders, communicating with youth, integrated mission, youth discipleship, creative programming, missions and leadership development.

Basic training

The training was basic, but that is what was needed. “Boot Camp brought us back to the fundamentals,” stated Justin Docherty, youth worker at Portland Tabernacle, Ore., and he continued with this poetic summary:
“It reminded us of the mission and the cost,
It reignited our passion for the lost,
It revived our hope in Christ and the cross”
Many delegates said the daily small group discussion and prayer sessions were an especially helpful element of Boot Camp. Groups were formed of delegates from corps located in close proximity to each other. Captain Kyle Smith, territorial youth secretary explains, “We deliberately formed groups this way so that relationships between youth workers from the same general region could be formed and strengthened.”

Sarah Lamkin of the Tustin Ranch, Calif., corps shared, “Since I am new to The Salvation Army I had never really taken that leap into community and fellowship with other youth workers…[these] discussion and prayer groups helped me to connect with youth workers in my area who were struggling with the same things I struggle with. I now feel refreshed and empowered by the ministry I experienced through my own peers.”

General sessions

The general sessions were a time for gathering for worship, prayer, teaching and inspiration. Keith Spencer and the Impact praise team from Pasadena, Calif., led delegates into the presence of God through outstanding times of worship. Brass and woodwinds added beautifully to their sound, and delegates responded, lifting their voices and their hands in worship and praise to God.

Each one of the general sessions gave opportunity for the whole group to pray for one or two specific divisions in the territory. As delegates from the specified division rose to their feet, the other delegates surrounded them, laying hands on them, thanking God for their youth ministry successes, and petitioning God for their needs and requests.

Snapshots of effective ministries throughout the territory were also included in these general sessions, and through video, photos and testimony, representative youth leaders shared ideas and plans that could be replicated in other locations.

Thursday’s general sessions featured guest speaker Duffy Robbins, chairman of the Youth Ministry Department at Eastern College in St. Davids, Penn., teaching on the subject of youth discipleship. He discussed how we can help bring our children and youth into maturity in Christ, reminding delegates that God is more concerned about the holiness of our young people than He is with their happiness. “When it comes to youth discipleship,” Robbins stated, “We need to go deep, not wide.”

Friday’s sessions were devoted to youth outreach and Commissioner Joe Noland gave a compelling talk on how to effectively reach the lost children of our communities, doing whatever it takes to get their attention, in order that we might “save some.”

Jim Conway of the SEARCH Institute taught a seminar on the Developmental Assets, affirming and encouraging all that we do to build health and stability into the lives of the young people we are ministering to.

On Saturday, the focus shifted to leadership development as Ted Stump, founder and director of “High Impact,” a student-led cell groups ministry, prophetically challenged the whole group to rise up and lead the Army in reaching out to save souls. In his challenge, he affirmed the passion to reach the lost that he’d seen in Boot Camp delegates. He stated that in all his experience speaking at Christian conferences throughout the world, he had only seen that same degree of passion one other time in Amsterdam at a Billy Graham gathering of 10,000 evangelists.

Later that morning, Lt. Colonel Ray Moulton, secretary for program, highlighted the new territorial “foundations of ministry” corps standard, explaining how youth ministries fit into the equation of healthy corps programs. He also introduced the concept of Integrated Mission and discussed how much we have to learn from non-western developing countries who are using this relational-based ministry process to gain important ground in the area of community development and the ministry of the Gospel.

Territorial leaders Commissioners Philip and Pat Swyers joined Boot Camp for Saturday and Sunday and made the most of the opportunity to interact with youth leaders from across the territory.

Recognition for service

Saturday evening’s banquet recognized 13 youth leaders from across the territory for their faithful service and excellence in youth ministry for more than three years. The congregation applauded outstanding youth leaders Jen Arens (San Francisco Turk Street, Calif.), Christina Arnold (Glendale, Ariz.), Matt Brewer (Modesto Citadel, Calif.), Debbie Carsh (Fresno Citadel, Calif.), Joy Groenleer (Kauluwela Mission Corps, HI), Lincoln Hawk (Long Beach, Calif.), Will Merlin (Tucson Amphi, Ariz.), Heather Paap (Mesa Citadel, Ariz.), Luis and Maria Salazar (Lincoln Heights, Calif.), and Nemensio and Susan Sardis (Kolonia, Pohnpei).

At the end of the recognition time, all of the names of the recognized youth leaders were placed in a hat, and Swyers drew out one name, Christina Arnold, of the Glendale, Ariz., corps. She will now have the opportunity to attend the Hawaii Youth Councils in March, all expenses paid, where she will give her testimony and minister to the young people there.

Saturday praise

Saturday evening was capped off with an extended time of praise and worship and open-microphone testimonies where many delegates witnessed to what the Lord had been saying to them at Boot Camp, and how it would affect their ministry back at their corps. As delegates testified and worshipped, the Holy Spirit moved and the Redwood Glen chapel became “holy ground.” Delegates came and knelt at the mercy seat. Some gathered into prayer groups with their friends and colleagues around the chapel—all were fervently in prayer, renewing their commitments to Christ, praying for their youth and for the ministry God has called them to.

At the end of Boot Camp, each delegate had to complete one final and most important “drill:” his or her Boot Camp action plan. They spent time in prayer and reflection before filling out an extensive questionnaire which recorded on paper the vision the Lord was giving them for their youth ministry. They wrote down their specific plans, which they committed to put into action upon return to their corps. Divisional youth leaders were nearby to help and guide and to support this process in prayer.

Sunday morning rally

On Sunday morning the troops gathered for worship. Commissioner Pat Swyers encouraged the youth leaders to continue in faithful service emphasizing the importance of reaching young people while they are young before the world corrupts them. “What a wonderful thing it would be to hear testimonies, not that Christ has saved them from sin, but that he has saved them from sinning.”

Commissioner Phil Swyers gave the Bible message from Exodus 17:5-13. He shared an illustration from the Civil War battle of Gettysburg, where General Robert E. Lee’s troops, after a tiring day of travel, had stopped short of taking the hill above the field a week before the battle even took place. They pitched their tents at the bottom of the hill and slept, unaware that Union troops would take that hill during the night, sealing the victory for the Northern army.

Swyers challenged Boot camp delegates not to stop short of victory, but to heed the command to “take the hill.”

“We’ve been at Boot Camp for one reason alone. We want to take our communities and divisions for Christ!”

He went on to challenge delegates to be a warrior for God. “All he wants is your heart, your will, your life and ready hands to do battle for him. This Boot Camp has prepared you for battle. And what is our mission? Changing lives…one life at a time.”

Boot camp has only just ended, but the effects are already reverberating around the territory. Youth leaders in Southern California are already making plans to visit each other’s youth programs to learn from each other and gain ideas.

One corps officer has shared that they are “seeing instant results” in the delegate they sent to Boot Camp.

“We expected Boot Camp to be like youth councils on a bigger scale. Boy, were we wrong! We received a phone call from [our boot camp delegate] last night. She couldn’t wait to share her experience with us. She was…in her words, ‘ready and willing’ to do whatever we needed to make youth a priority in our corps. We talked briefly about our vision for the corps and how she would be such an important part of the team…[She] is now on the program for Sunday to give her testimony to share with the church what she has learned. She will also be speaking to the corps council about her vision and “game plan” for our youth….I am not sure exactly what happened at Boot Camp, but I can assure you that this young woman has had an experience with the Holy Spirit.

She has been prompted to take ownership in the corps …[and] I am convinced that great things will be happening”

We are at war! And Boot Camp delegates have responded, “Sir, yes, sir!” to our commander in chief, Jesus Christ. They are ready for battle. The Revolution, indeed, has begun!

Larger than life

Larger than life

by Terry Camsey, Major –  I read recently that Charlie Chaplin once

Reflections of a Boot Camp delegate

Reflections of a Boot Camp delegate

Wow, what an awesome week

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