How to Impact Teenagers at Camps and Conferences This Summer

Kara Powell | Jun 22, 2012

How to Impact Teenagers at Camps and Conferences This Summer

As a youth group kid, I went to more summer camps and conferences than I can remember. While the details and decisions of each are a bit fuzzy, I’m sure each one of them played a part in my adolescent spiritual formation.

This week, one particular conference I attended as a high school junior keeps coming to mind. But it’s not because of the speaker (I don’t even remember who the speaker was). Nor is it because of the great worship team, creative programming times, or small group discussions.

It’s because of my youth pastor and one interaction I observed in the parking lot.

My youth pastor, Mike DeVito (now with the National Network of Youth Ministries), had loaded all of us in the church vans. But he was stopped in the parking lot by a young man - a young man he barely knew - who had some severe disabilities. I remember looking out the van window, watching Mike interact with that young man. Mike talked with him, laughed with him, and gave him a few hugs. It was probably a 3 minute interaction but it’s the most vivid memory I have of that conference. I don’t remember what the speaker that weekend looked like, but I remember the beaming face of the young man with disabilities when Mike hugged him.

For some reason, I feel like I need to share that this week. Maybe you’re getting ready for a family vacation with teenagers. Perhaps you’re about to step into minivans and head to summer camp or your short-term missions trip.

Your students might not remember the speaker, or the program. If they’re like me, they will remember the way you show generous love to others, especially the least of these. The parking lot might be your most powerful platform for impact.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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