long before i found out about the Present:Hope Tour i had written the dates for this new experience called the “middle school ministry campference” on my whiteboard under the “should do” list. there was a number of reasons…1) it was being pulled together by one of my mentors and all around good hearted kingdom dude – Mark Oestreicher 2) it looked like it was going to be way different than anything i had attended. 3) it took on new meaning when the youth cartel was birthed and another really smart and good hearted kingdom dude, adam mclane joined the team at the youth cartel. i was further interested when adam asked me whether i was going to be able to make it about 6 weeks ago…like one week after i committed to the team at venture expeditions to ride in the Present:Hope Tour. But it was still on my white board. so when i returned from the ride i pondered it again. i didn’t register until thursday afternoon, the day before. i was only able to be part of the experience for about 24 hours, but it was an amazing 24 hours. Springhill Camp is an amazing facility to host a middle school ministry event. it was fun to hang with some of the minds and hearts that have shaped me like kurt johnston, marko and scott rubin. and it was a blessing to get introduced to other good-hearted middle school folks like brooklyn lindsey, katie edwards and johnny scott. even watching some of those in attendance get to play a game of Angry Birds -Live was a great memory.
one interesting aspect was having had about 5.5 hrs in the car to the camp, it was some of the first time i had alone to process what i had just pushed through over the past three weeks with the 803 mile Present:Hope bike tour from Joplin, MO to the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. So i was a little dumb struck by one of the first things i saw pulling into the camp was a van from joplin. i learned later that the worship team from Christ in Youth was from there. small world.
the combination of a relaxed environment, the minds and hearts of some incredible ministry folks really made this event worth every moment of driving and the cost of registration. i’m guessing that going into this event adam and mark may have thought it may be the first and only campference, but given what i heard from my bunkmates i’m hoping its the first of many to come. i’ve pulled a short video together that doesn’t do the weekend justice but will give you a sense.
i didn’t get to be part of any of the fun adventure that spring hill offered…some firsts i think…night owl zipline and glowstick paintball…nor did i stay up for the late night screening of that 1972 classic – A Thief in the Night… but i did really enjoy all that i experienced. the dialoginars with Scott Rubin and Kurt Johnston. the soapbox sessions with Katie Edwards and Jeremy Hickman. the thoughtful tribal gatherings with presenters like Steve Argue from Mars Hill Bible Church. the amazing fellowship with my bunkmates in Mt. Rainier….and getting some hangtime with the amazing Andy Disher.
All together, it was so worth my investment. plus it didn’t hurt that the team at simply youth provided some incredible prizes and i was blessed with winning one of the mega-packs(for having been the oldest dude attendance – although i think there was a couple of folks who wouldn’t admit their age).
my prayer is that the middle school ministry campference is the first of many to come. hope you make it next year. check out andy disher’s blog and marko’s blog for more thoughts from the campference.
on another note…if you’re interested in another thoughtful conversation i’d encourage you to check out an event that the Youth Cartel is hosting on November 21st in Atlanta after the National Youth Workers Conference. The Extended Adolescence Symposium will be a unique day of dialog, debate, and discovery. Adam and Marko are bringing together two experts with vastly different opinions on the nature & problems of extended adolescence, as well as a moderation/interpreter who knows youth ministry. the purpose will be to help us wrestle with how to best understand today’s teenagers and young adults, and how we can help move toward adulthood, rather than being perpetually stuck in their teens. Learn more & register here.