Western Youth Institue 2006

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WYI delegates challenged to surrender all to God.

by Sarai Welch – 

Top and above: WYI delegates join the March of Witness in San Francisco’s Chinatown, celebrating the 120th anniversary of the Chinatown Corps. Photos by Jim Sparks.

Delegates and staff arrived at the weeklong 2006 Western Youth Institute (WYI) thinking they knew what to expect…how wrong they were! This year would rock the socks off all in attendance. WYI began with a bang!

As the first day began, Fulton Hawk gave a disturbing speech. He challenged all to DIE. He spoke of dying to self and giving everything to God. Delegates and staff who chose to die to self filled out a death certificate. Later on that day the staff was split into men’s and women’s groups. At the women’s meeting, delegates participated in a Project Runway episode with special appearances by Laura Robinson and Chris Hawk and later, a talk by Denise Hawk. Meanwhile, at the men’s meeting, participants enjoyed a time of fellowship around the campfire. Towards the end of the evening, the women joined the men at the fire pit and each group was given the opportunity to pray for the other. It was a night of unity among believers and within each gender.

Keynote speakers included Michael Collins, Ted Stump, Captain Robert Wright, Captain Trina Pockett and Rob Noland. Each day a speaker would challenge and inspire delegates to give their all to Christ.

Mornings began with the infamous WYI News. This year the news was reported live. Of course, when shooting live, many mistakes can happen, and they did. Faataga Dean, WYI News reporter, covered plenty of stories, one of which was outstanding. A WYI delegate discovered that raccoons had eaten his Spam Musubi. Further investigation, however, revealed that the “raccoons” were just a few of our younger attendees. It was sad times for this delegate.

One night, the camp was introduced to the hilarious Skit Guys, two high school buddies, who join comedy and Christ to present an amusing show. Skits included the various ways people pray, Bible stories presented in a different light, and other funny vignettes.

As the days progressed, many exciting events took place, one of which I think no delegate will forget. On Thursday night, the entire camp dressed in appropriate attire to go and spin their wheels in the rink—the roller rink that is. Sporting retro clothing, delegates invaded the Santa Cruz Roller Palladium for the rink’s Disco Night. The music was loud, the colors were bright, and the falls were dramatic.

Throughout the week delegates were given the opportunity to participate in many sports, including softball, volleyball, basketball, and dodge ball. All games were played with enthusiasm and good sportsmanship.

Annual Talent Night was packed with amazing performances, and featured hip-hop, a cornet solo, skits, gospel choir, and vocal soloists. Even Jim Sparks gave a short signing (yes, signing) performance. It was a night when everyone could enjoy each other’s talents—not to mention laughing at the comedy in between.

This year WYI participants were given a new opportunity, the March of Witness. All delegates traveled to Chinatown, in the heart of San Francisco. This event celebrated the 120th anniversary of the Chinatown Corps. After getting in formation, soldiers, officers, bandsmen, timbrelists and Army friends marched through Chinatown. What an experience! In full uniform I marched, yelled and waved a flag for all to see my commitment to the Lord and The Salvation Army.

WYI 2006 was a fun, daring and Spirit-filled week. The Lord was praised and lives were challenged in every meeting. For me, this was one of the best years—I had fun, but I was challenged to DO something back home, and I was inspired by the other delegates who made changes by giving their all to Christ.

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