A Youth Pastor’s Dream Retreat: Time to Talk One on One
“Radiate was like: ‘Come, show up, and we’ll supply everything,’” says Cindy Schreutelkamp, Director of Youth Ministries at Clearview Christian Reformed Church. “And that’s such a huge bonus for a youth director. Because it meant I got to spend time with my kids. Usually, I do the planning, the speaking, the logistics, the crowd control. But that was all taken care of already.”
Last February, Cindy brought her youth group to Radiate, a signature retreat program hosted by Pioneer Camp Ontario for church youth groups. Offered during four weekends in the winter, Radiate is designed to allow youth pastors to have ample time with their students. That means Pioneer Camp prepares in advance a program of winter sports, worship, games, devotional time and more, so that groups and their leaders can take part in the activities together.
And with Pioneer Camp handling the details, Cindy could focus entirely on her students.
“Saturday night, after worship, one of our girls asked me if we could just sit there and pray together. She told me what the music had meant to her, as tears filled her eyes. She was from a family where she was the person who was going to help her parents know Jesus. And the music really spoke to her in that.
“So I got to sit there with her and listen, have a good discussion and pray for her because there were other people there to look after the other kids. That was huge.”
Another highlight came at the end of the conference.
“My students were all in small groups, four to five kids per group, with a leader, but on the last day we all came together. We went around and had two to three people say something they appreciated about each person.
“And there was one girl, on retreat for the first time, who was unique. At dinner, she let everyone else at her table get food first. During worship, she wasn’t afraid to close her eyes and just be in the moment, filled with the Spirit. She was an encourager; she had no problem saying to someone, ‘you know, I really appreciated that.’ She was always vocal about those things. And because she has such a kind, caring, thoughtful heart, kids gravitated toward her. She was like a magnet—the kids knew she was different and really, really appreciated that.
“And as we were sharing, her leader spoke and then all of the girls in her small group wanted to say something. And then two more leaders shared, too, and all them were in tears. It was the highlight of the weekend for this girl. And she actually had to move; her dad got relocated, so she lives in Connecticut now. But she wants to come back to Radiate and asked that, if we go next year, we take her with us. And of course we said we would.”
Radiate is now in its fourth year of welcoming youth groups to Pioneer Camp Ontario for a weekend of learning, refreshment and fellowship. Last year, over 300 youth participated. Find out more about Radiate here.
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