For the last 15 years, we’ve been dedicated to providing a Best in Class Summer Camp experience for teenagers 12-19 years old. We’ve had an incredible ride, and today marks the beginning of the last two weeks at our location in Bayfield.
In 2001, under the leadership of Kanakuk Kamps, we decided to go out and build an outdoor adventure place where teenagers could come and be encouraged in their faith. We built cabins to create community, a retreat center second to none, and hired a staff that proved to be mentors to thousands of students from around the world.
We started to ask important questions about how teenagers engage in faith, how they explore new exciting adventures in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains, and re-create the sense of community we felt slipping away from our culture. And to date, we’ve achieved so much more.
In 2005, I wanted to see if we could invite ALL the Christian denominations to our camp. In a world with so much division, we thought it would be an incredible statement to the world to see Baptist Teenagers, Episcopal Teenagers, Catholic Teenagers, Presbyterian Teenagers, Lutheran, Methodist, Bible, and all the brands of “Christian” faith lock arms together and celebrate unity.
By 2007, we could honestly say we achieved a beautiful place where everyone who had some kind of “Christian” heritage could come around the table and encourage one another. It was AMAZING!!
And then I had a CRAZY idea. I wondered if we could invite people from different faiths to discuss issues teenagers deal with around the world. We wanted to ask important questions about faith, dating, loneliness, self-awareness; all couched in a vehicle of adventure. So in 2010, when Jamie Jo and I re-branded the camp and called it KIVU, we invited Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, Agnostics, Hindus, and a host of others to have a conversation about life, Jesus, and what it would mean to the world to see people who could agree on some things, disagree on some things, and then go out into the world and deepen friendships.
For the last five years, we’ve had an UNBELIEVABLE time showing the world how to disagree in love. We’ve found a beautiful kaleidoscope called human, and we’ve watched people who would never intentionally make friends with people from a different faith group actually reach out and care deeply for one another.
They’ve built stories of adventure. They’ve learned different culture. They’ve learned how to navigate conversations where they can actually be long time friends. And in the end, we’ve helped to facilitate a world where students can think about Who they want to be, Where they want to invest life, and How they can talk about faith in a world crying for them to be silent.
As we’ve experienced thousands of incredible stories when having these Jesus-Centric conversations, students have come to see a beautiful picture of the world void of hatred, fear, and the natural vitriolic conversations they hear on the news. Racism has been challenged, Phobias have faded, and a return to the center of Jesus’ message has been held high.
And Today, we start the beginning of the end.
We’ve decided to close the gates here in Bayfield so we can focus on having these conversations through another medium.
The KIVU Gap Year is growing, and it seems like the world is interested in helping students engage at a deeper level. The conversation through the vehicle of summer camp only lasts for 2 weeks and a year on social media. But our Gap Year gives students and up close and personal look at how different cultures live, how they worship, and how to engage in meaningful conversations with people IN their home communities.
Coupled with a new way of doing education through experiential learning, we’ve decided to put ALL our resources towards developing a year-long travel focused program that will continue the heart of KIVU around the world.
Although it may mark a season of change, we are incredibly excited for what is in store for the future.
So, for those of you who have generously helped us with this decision, I wanted to say THANK YOU!
For those who have chosen to help us financially, we are GRATEFUL!
For those who’ve sent messages and actual stories from their time at camp, we are so thankful to be a small part of how you’ve grown into who you are today.
For those who wonder, IS KIVU GOING AWAY? Let me, with all confidence say, we are not going away! We’re changing, morphing, and listening to the culture in order to develop ways our mission and message can help create a best in class Young Adult conversation in their culture today. We’re not comfortable relying on the success of the past to dictate our future. We want to explore and build a place to continue being instrumental in helping students live WHOLE, TRANSFORMATIONAL, lives in whatever they choose to do in the future.
Today, we welcome our final KIVU term to camp.
We’re excited to provide these students with the best two weeks of their summer.
And then when it’s over, we will dedicate ALL of our energy to helping students be successful as they embark on the journey of a lifetime through The KIVU Gap Year.
Thank you all for the most incredible 15 years. Together you’ve been as much an encouragement to us as we have, hopefully, been to you.
A new chapter is about to unfold…
The Best is Yet to Come.