Western Youth Institute–a Camp Arnold First
by Kevin White –
One hundred forty-five delegates from throughout the territory gathered recently at Camp Arnold for the 1998 Western Youth Institute. This year’s theme was “Goin’ to the Mountain” based on Psalm 24:3-4, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.”
Each morning delegates and staff met for a time of praise and worship led by Captain Rob Birks, Puyallup Corps, focussing in on what it actually takes to ascend the hill of the Lord. Daily seminars, workshops and evening programs were also geared into the theme.
This year, emphasis was put on the Youth Leadership track, designed for young adults who are currently in a youth leadership position at their corps. The goal was to provide a quality program of youth leadership training to further develop their skills in ministry.
Other delegates participated in Discipleship tracks designed to teach, motivate and equip young adults to become better disciples of Christ.
Jim Burns, noted youth ministry expert and author, provided the keynote address that kicked off the week, challenging the delegates to reach out to one another, listen to God’s call and become involved in a radical ministry that can change lives. Jim also provided leadership (with Captain Carla LaFayette) to the Youth Leadership track.
This was the first time WYI was held in the Northwest Division and the program took full advantages of what Camp Arnold had to offer, specifically, the challenge course. Every delegate was taken through a unique program that included team building skills, self-esteem tasks, goal setting and leadership training skills. Highlights included cat walks across a ropes course stretched between trees some 70 or more feet high! One delegate was heard from high up in the trees, “I did it, I never thought I could have made it!”
Another exciting aspect of WYI 1998 was the annual WYI Project. Each year, delegates and staff take on a project designed to assist some aspect of practical needs for ministry. Previous projects included the purchasing of recreational equipment for a center, an electric keyboard for music ministry, and even the purchase of a washer and dryer. This year it was PROJECT RUSSIA. Offerings were taken each night to assist the Russian youth officers in conducting their own youth councils and major youth events. In just five days, $2800 was raised! The money was then presented to Lieutenants John and Alison Norton, Regional Youth Officers in Russia, who were special guests at WYI. The Norton’s were overwhelmed by the generosity of the delegates and staff.
Other highlights of the week included Bible studies, electives, talent night, sporting events and the banquet where the comedy duo of Mad Dogs and Englishmen were the featured group. They brought tears of laughter and provoked tears of emotion as they presented their comedy and challenging dramas.
God’s Spirit was evident throughout the week as each day young adults came forward committing themselves to deeper service in Christ. Indeed, WYI was a mountain top experience, but as the delegates were challenged, they need to call on God and keep close to him in order to keep that experience fresh and alive.