The Youth Ministry program at UCUCC had a wonderful summer! The events included youth programming at Seabeck, the Middle School Service Camp and High School Service Camp (new names for mission trips to reflect our events this summer). Our events had opportunities to serve others, and experience God in sharing stories, learning, connecting and playing together. The program is deeply grateful to the 10 adult leaders who gave of their time, energy and care in leading our youth program this summer. The youth (and families) are also so grateful for the congregation’s support both in monetary donations and prayers and encouragement.
About our summer service camps:
When it was clear that we couldn’t go on our previously planned mission trips this summer, we pivoted to create experiences we could do together via zoom. On the first day of our camps we focused on our call to serve others and painted rocks to inspire our neighbors and spread cheer and hope for our neighborhoods. The second day we made gift bags for folks in our UCUCC community (we made about 50). Then middle school made 80 outreach kits for Teen Feed filled with snacks and personal care items. High school made 40 back-to-school backpacks filled with school supplies for children and youth at Mary’s Place. The final day we focused on learning about systemic injustice and how we can work to change the systems that oppress. We learned how to contact our representatives and did some writing of letters. On our last day for high school, we had a special guest Rev. Kelsey Beebe come to share about what the scripture tells us about our call to disrupt systems and we explored “righteous anger”. And then she led us in some yoga to restore our energy and gave us tools for doing this work.
I was struck by the ways these experiences had “ripple effects”. All the things we did rippled kindness and generosity throughout our neighborhoods, our church community, organizations we’re connected to and beyond. Another beautiful ripple was that my youth ministry friend in Montana had planned this same camp for her group at the same time as our HS group. So on the last day or our camps, they came to our morning opening program and we sang camp songs together. And then we went to their closing time in the afternoon and reflected on how we’d seen God in our experiences.
From one of our youth about their experience:
“What stood out to me was the fact that I could brighten someone’s day just by taking the time to handwrite a small letter showing them that I care. I will continue to try to keep painting rocks (if I have time) and I will be writing to my representatives. I saw God in Mary’s Place, in the work that the volunteers do and how much they care about others. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to participate in kindness this week!”
Before quarantine we had raised a lot of funds for our summer trips and we are so grateful. All of the supplies for the kits and the backpacks were covered by those funds raised. Thank YOU church! Your generosity made all these donations and experiences possible. Thanks to the youth for saying YES to these experiences. I personally am so inspired by these amazing youth who care so deeply about this community. God’s love and call to justice shines through our youth! May God be present with our youth and families as they look towards fall and the start of the school year.
Margaret Swanson, Director of Youth Ministry