Last week, KIVU hosted Red Mountain Community Church from Mesa Arizona.  They brought 100 people from the church, all involved in Youth Work in some form or fashion.  One of the greatest parts of this group was, their leader Luke Edgerton was an old KIVU staff Rock Climbing Guide.  He called us about a year ago and asked if we would consider hosting their church at the place he remembered as one of the greatest experiences of his life.

Of course, we opened our arms and ventured into a new phase of KIVU:  mainly, Youth Retreats.

I’ve often wondered if retreats out at our place in Colorado could hold the same quality of programming we offer in our mid-summer terms.  And boy, was I surprised.

Long Term Sustainability

In our ‘normal’ KIVU terms, we enroll students one by one.  Our staff spends all year recruiting kids from different parts of the world, and I believe KIVU offers those students a break from the normal rush of life.  We all know teenagers are over pressured in every area of their lives.  Academics, Athletics, Extra Curricular activities, are draining the life out of today’s students.  So KIVU has provided a long needed two-week rest for the students who want to come and just become Human Beings rather than Human Doings.

When Red Mountain arrived, I caught the vision.

KIVU could become a hybrid place where we could host people who wanted to learn the DNA of what we teach here at KIVU in the summer.  Instead of two weeks, it could be a week-long summer camp for churches or youth groups who were interested in having someone else help in programming.  And when our staff had the opportunity to share what we learn here with a group of students all from the same geographic location; we knew right away the long-term sustainability for these students to continue their spiritual growth would be inevitable.

Summer Programs in a Box

I know so many youth leaders who are tired of planning the entire summer camp week.  And I know churches are tired of shouldering the insurance and liability for their retreats.  When the burned out youth leader meets the crisis risk management team of the church the retreat looks more like the old youth games like ‘chubby bunny,’ archery, and leather craft; all of which are able to be tolerated by the executive at the main office.

To think about taking a group of students rock climbing on their own or river rafting is just an expensive proposition.

So here at KIVU we thought we’d just open up our 20 years of experience and help local youth programs with a  Camp in a Box idea.  If youth leaders are dead set on programming, they can come and rent out the facilities they need.  But if groups like Red Mountain want to come and allow our staff to help, we can provide a short-term KIVU like Colorado experience and the leaders can spend more time with their students instead of working so hard to provide a program that takes a crazy amount of energy.

A Bigger Impact

It’s been my goal here at KIVU from the start.  I would love to see this place used as a resource for communities to learn what it means to Love God and Love Others.  We’re not into the same old youth programs that manipulate kids into being a part of a certain group.  We want to help challenge students to think about their faith, work on the relationships they find most important, and help provide a vehicle of cohesion for the youth leaders to take back to their communities.  We want the momentum of summer camp to stop being that same old Summer Camp High thing we all know from growing up, and turn it into a starting line where students can see how easy it is to engage with one another.

Gone are the days where the impact of summer camp resides with the quantification of how many students cry on the ending night.  What a bore!!

Today, the most impactful programs are going to challenge students to engage in the REAL world.

What does it look like to practice faith when students go to school?

What does it look like to practice faith in their families?

What role does faith have in my physical body?  And how can I see myself for who I am, instead of what the world says I should be?

What does it look like when they are deciding their vocational direction and they want to be spiritual people?

These are just three of the eight dimensions I’ve been working on with my Mentor, and I feel like it’s time to shed the old ideas of summer camp programming, and provide a new, more compelling way to help students achieve success.

Overall, I couldn’t be more happy to hug my friend Luke at the end of the week and hear him say, “My students LOVED being here.”

And so, KIVU is now open for retreat!!!

Today, we’ll see 270 people from Dallas Texas.  And for the next 4 days, we’ll give them the experience of a lifetime.

Here’s to new friends in new places.

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