Youth Peace Travel Team – Camp Ithiel

IMG_8428.edited Greetings! This past week we had an amazing time at Camp Ithiel in fellowship with Junior High Camp! We were able to refresh from the hot sun with a trip to Twisty Treat with some of the support staff. Again, we were amazed by the youth’s insights during our justice workshops. It was awesome to have a session with each small group and dive deep into our curriculum.

This past week at Camp Ithiel was a blast – full of love-filled conversations about faith, enthusiastic singing, and lots of sun! Because the majority of the campers and staff at Ithiel are not members of the Church of the Brethren, I was less accustomed to the spiritual practices and theological language used. Although I am often quick to share my own thoughts and opinions, this week I spent deliberately practicing open listening. It saddens me to think how easily I could have missed the many blessings that were shared with me this week. The counselors, staff, and campers modeled for me a core element of spirituality that I had no idea I was completely ignoring: surrender. In songs, they lifted their hand over their heads in surrender to the powerful emotion of sharing together in worship and the presence of the spirit in that place. In prayer, they would surrender their tongues to a fervent plea for grace for those with whom they stood. When playing camp games, they would surrender themselves to the joy and laughter of the moment, running full-tilt. Individuals modeled the importance of surrender as they told stories of their own faith journeys during which they placed all faith in God and continued on, often in a new unexpected direction. Now I would say that I am an absolute novice in the area of surrender, but boy did this family in faith inspire me to give it more practice. I hope to practice being more present and surrender myself to my emotions during worship. I also hope to quiet my own thought more often to surrender myself to the wisdom of those around me.
Blessings and peace,
Sara

Howdy!
What a wonderful week once again! Camp Ithiel is such a beautiful camp; it was so hard to leave! This week I was amazed by the depth of the youth’s faith, and by how much they yearned to grow deeper in their connection with Christ. Also, the connections being made with counselors and staff are still awesome. They push me to think deeper about my faith, my choices, and my journey. I was really able to open up – even though it typically is a challenge for me.

The campers this week were so awesomely energetic, and they were able to share their energy with me. They shared stories of their lives so gratefully and truly opened up to us. Finally, I appreciated the time I spent with them outside of our sessions, hearing about what life is like in hot and humid Florida, and learning a little bit of Creole.
Peace, Love, and Palm Trees,
Jenna

Hey y’all! One more superb week has passed us by, and I have to say, I’m more than a little sad to leave. Despite the heat, Camp Ithiel was so much fun. My week was only slightly interrupted with some illness, but the campers and staff brought so much prayer and compassion to me during it. I was beyond humbled to experience their love for me, even when they had only known me a few days.

My favorite part of the week was our last session, which ended up being an open-ended “ask and talk” hour. Some of our most meaningful conversations seem to happen during the unstructured times, and I’m so grateful for those moments. In addition to our sessions, another favorite part of my time there was when YPTT got to take a short adventure to the beach! I’m a sucker for the ocean and I loved having some fun family time with the team.

The campers this week were so joyful and energetic, and the staff were incredibly engaged with their campers. Ithiel’s staff had so many gifts, and I continually saw encouragement and inspiration flowing through these counselors to the children. I was again humbled by their confidence and faith in God as He was at work in them and through them.

Although I can’t wait to experience the Iowa weather compared to Florida, leaving Ithiel wasn’t easy. I was able to take with me some jokes, songs, encouragement, and I think a little sand, too (whoops!).
– Phoebe

Hello pals!

We have just finished our week at Camp Ithiel. Returning to Camp Ithiel means a lot to me personally. My Brethren Volunteer Service orientation was held there January of 2015. A lot has happened for me since then. Also, Florida in January and Florida in July are vastly different experiences. Anyway, in some ways returning to this camp felt like home for me. This is where my Brethren journey really took off. As much as I loved my orientation at Camp Ithiel, it was awesome to experience the space in a whole new way. One of the themes from the camp curriculum is “Together, the courage to show up.” Being on Peace Team and running around constantly makes showing up mentally at times very challenging. This week specifically I had the opportunity to not only push myself physically to show up despite the heat, but to show up spiritually and mentally for worships theologically different from my own practices. Both of these I have some trouble with. But as I reflected on why it is challenging to listen to those who share different practices of similar ideas, the importance of such action has been heavy on my heart. As children of God, I think we all believe in the same basic ideas. One is not right and one is not wrong. One is not better and one is not worse. Actively loving your neighbor means to actively listen. And even if there are barriers that keep us from being active, whether it is the heat or our own personal walls, we are called to not just tolerate, but to love our neighbors. We should listen and learn from our brothers and sisters in God.

Peace, blessings and patience,
Kiana

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Youth Peace Travel Team – Camp Brethren Woods and Annual Conference


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This past week the team enjoyed a few days at Brethren Woods and then was off to a very busy schedule at Annual Conference. At Brethren Woods, we led one session with each unit, focusing on our “Just Peace” workshop, in which campers think about how different questions are just or unjust. At Annual Conference, we did this same session with junior high and senior high participants at the age group activities. Another exciting part of our time at Annual Conference was leading games, crafts, and storytelling with the K-2 activities! It was quite a busy week traveling from Maryland to Virginia, to North Carolina, and ending in Florida – but it was filled with learning, sharing, fellowship, and fun.

Hey, y’all! Wow, what a great week. I absolutely LOVED getting to go to Brethren Woods and Annual Conference. First of all, I spent a week counseling at Brethren Woods last summer, so it was really fun to go to a place where I was at least a little familiar and had some previous ties too. Not to mention, I go to school near Harrisonburg so it felt like going home in a way. The people there were amazing and we got to spend some time talking with the staff as well as connecting with campers. I even saw a few of my campers from last year! Also, a former Youth Peace Travel Team member even helped us with a family meeting, providing some extra guidance and insight, and encouragement. I hated to leave so early, but going to Annual Conference was pretty amazing too. I got to see some of my church family for the first time in a while, and I realized just how much I missed them. The business was really great-despite differences in belief and theology; what I was able to listen in on sounded respectful and loving. Worship spoke so strongly to this, too. Discussing our differences and working through conflict in love, and doing all of this with Christ as the center through which we are united, is crucial. We also experienced some great discussion in our sessions with the youth, and we got to help serve in a number of different booths and activities. I think what I loved most, though, was seeing people from my home congregation, past and present. Their love and encouragement means so much to me and I really loved getting to spend some quality time with them. Overall it was a great week, and I’m excited to be heading to Florida next! I hope Camp Ithiel is ready for us!
– Phoebe

Greetings pals!
We have just finished up our time at Brethren Woods and Annual Conference. It has been one of our busier weeks so far in my opinion. So many things to do and people to see! One of my highlights from the week was having our weekly “family meeting” hosted by a former YPTT member at Brethren Woods. This was our most difficult family meeting yet. And seeing that this was our most difficult meeting and how smooth and full of love it was, is an insight to the blessing it is to be working with this group of individuals. Our Brethren Woods mentor ended our meeting time with some feedback, saying “I am amazed that you are able to speak so intentionally to each other.” This phrase really touched my heart. Even though we all come from different places, different working styles, and different personalities it is always a joy to come together for a shared passion of peace, justice, and camp. My favorite thing about being a part of this team is getting to dive into what it means to live peacefully and actively love our neighbors and then having the immediate opportunity to live out our teachings. I am so blessed and respected by these gals, I hope to take the message of speaking the truth in love with me anywhere God may lead me. It was also one of God’s many well timed plans, that this lesson touched my heart right before Annual Conference. I was nervous about going into this conference as a young adult with so many “controversial” topics at hand. However, I was amazingly pleased to see everyone speaking their truth in respectful fashions. Even as communications get tough, days get long, and we become tired. We are all children of God. We are all called to be peacemakers.

Blessings,
Kiana

Although our time was short at Brethren Woods, I would like to thank the staff for the especially warm welcome that we received. One of the many blessings of this summer for me has been the chance to engage with young adults in leadership in the church. One of my favorite activities to lead and participate in this summer has quickly become an exercise from our Just Peace workshop. Each individual must decide if they think a certain activity is just, unjust, or somewhere in the middle. We encourage counselors to participate and each week, I am humbled by the contributions that they graciously provide. Each help me think about the questions in a new way, which I can then share with campers in upcoming weeks. From this week, I will remember that perhaps sitting with someone new could be made more just by inviting them to the table where others are already sitting and invite them into the community.

During the remainder of the week as we attended Annual Conference, I was further blessed by extraordinary fellowship as I reconnected with members of my church who have supported me throughout my faith journey, shared further time with many new friends from this summer, and developed a greater connection to the church through interactions with strangers bonded by our shared faith. I was again inspired particularly by the young adults in the church. One night we gathered together to meet the moderator-elect, and as I looked around the room I saw pastors, members of Brethren Volunteer Service, social justice activists, students, and a lot of friends. I cherish these relationships as role models, for I too can live out my faith at this point in my life.

Peace,
Sara

Hey everyone! What a week it was. Even though our time at Brethren Woods was short, I felt like we made an impact with the campers and counselors. From the minute we stepped in the door, the staff was welcoming us with their arms wide open, inviting us to join in on their Harry Potter Movie Marathon. During a break from watching movies, the team and a few counselors had a deep discussion about our faith journeys, how we viewed conflict resolution in relation to the Bible, and our path to discovering our individual theologies. It was really awesome to be able to share something so personal with each other and a new counselor on the first night we were at camp. I also really appreciate the bonds I quickly made with other counselors and campers who connected with me through our interactions outside of sessions.

At Annual Conference, I was refreshed to spend time with my church family and other friends in the larger denomination who I have formed relationships over the years of being involved in denominational activities. This being my first Annual Conference as an adult, I was interested to see the process of how business worked. It was really cool to see the delegates get through all of the queries essentially in one day. My favorite part from conference was my time with the K-2 activities. This is an age group the team will not see again this summer and it was awesome to witness their energy. I read a book to them called “What does peace feel like?” The book asks questions about peace through the different senses. When we got to the big question of what does peace feel like, one kid said, “Peace feels like it fills a hole in your heart.” Hearing these words from such young people are so inspiring to a young adult. This was just one of the many wise descriptions that the “youngins” said. My favorite question from the book was what does peace taste like, and many of the children answered, ICE CREAM! So with that being said, I will sign off with:

Peace, Love, and Ice Cream
Jenna

Youth Peace Travel Team – Camp Mardela

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Wow! We’ve already finished our second camp! This past week we were on the beautiful Eastern Shore at Camp Mardela working with their Tweens Camp! It was such a joy to be with this age group; they were so ready to learn more about the Bible and accept Jesus as their Savior. Their questions amazed us, and our one-on-one conversations with campers and counselors created deep connections. Once again, it was hard to leave such an amazing camp at the end of the week. We all truly feel blessed to have visited such a beautiful place.

 

Greetings friends!

Our past week at Camp Mardela has touched my heart. I entered the week cautious about being able to relate to children at such a different part of their journey than me. Not that I had low expectations for these kids, I just haven’t had the chance to interact with people that age in quite a while. I have become quite comfortable in my own young adult settings. And what do you know, leadership at camp Mardela continually stressed the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone!! I was absolutely blown away by the children’s ability to participate in creating and interacting in a safe space. Our just peace session offered some space for conversation about war. After hearing from a variety of campers and hearing a variety of comments, I felt full with the Spirit. Even though some opinions may differ, we are all children of God. We offered our stances in love and listened with grace. The children at Camp Mardela taught me more than I had to teach them this week.

-Kiana

Hello again, fellow peace enthusiasts!

I cannot believe what an awesome week we’ve just had. A few times during the week, Mardela felt like something out of a movie – like when the giant bell rang for dinner, or when Chief Geita told jokes or announcements over the loud-speaker. It was a little surreal, but SO much fun. Not only was it fun, but we had such a meaningful experience. The leadership and counselors at Mardela were phenomenal, and I loved watching these staff connect so closely with the campers as well as each other. It was only one week, but still such amazing bonds were formed. My favorite part of the week was when our director, Laura, led the entire group during Thursday worship in telling each other something we gained at camp that week. I saw so many kids open up that night, and the Spirit was surely moving. The campers gained new friends, courage, new experiences, and closer relationships with God. I think I gained another home away from home! Mardela, and Inspiration Hills too, now both hold such a special place in my heart. I can’t wait to have more groups and places to fall in love with this summer. I’m sure this will be a recurring theme in the following weeks, but as Winnie the Pooh said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Until next time!

Phoebe

There are not enough words to express my appreciation and connection I feel to this camp. From the moment we were picked up at the airport, we were greeted with willing arms to show us to the wondrous Eastern Shore and saw the sunset over the bay. The next day we began to meet the staff. Some opened up quickly to us and others took a day or two to share conversation and jokes, but by Tuesday I felt a deep connection to a few of the staff their and started to have fun with them. On Tuesday, I was having a conversation with one member who truly inspired me. To preface, I have always been a fairly driven athlete. But there are always days when I know I have not worked as hard as I could and I know I could do better. This staff member was discussing his hardship of not being able to work out anymore after the loss of a limb. Later in the week, he shared his story about his recovery in connection to his drive he got from his military experience in his ability to recover from this loss. These motivational speeches, in his eyes may not have meant to motivate, but have really pushed me to keep my work ethic in check. I cannot remember all the reasons why but I felt like most of Thursday and Friday I was crying more often than not, hearing campers open up about what they want to change in the world/their families/themselves, seeing the staff become more of family (with us included), and witnessing these children’s faith grow. I cannot thank Camp Mardela enough for the time and space we had to share and for allowing us to be a part of their family for the week. It was truly a blessing.

Peace, Love, and Camp Mardela

Jenna

This past week was a time of great spiritual growth and nourishment for me. As all those who know me will tell you, I struggle with change. Warming up to new places, people, and ideas sometimes just takes me a little time. This summer is full of change as each state has a different environment, each district its own theological language, and each camper their own story. As part of our interpersonal conflict resolution workshop, we consider Matthew 18:15-20. We discuss how to talk to each other in love, by acknowledging the feelings and needs of each other as we seek to work through our conflicts. This week verse 20 really stuck out to me. From the New International Version it reads, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” At so many points, I really felt the presence of the Spirit as we gathered with campers and staff. As we worshiped around the campfire we were witness to the life struggles and faith journeys of all. As we discussed what is “just,” we joined as active participants in the discernment of how we live out faith, shaping the world in the process. This recognition of the God here in our interactions not only led me to connect powerfully with the campers and staff at Mardela, but also challenges me to reconsider my approach to change this summer. I hope over the coming weeks when entering a new place to remember the presence of God in each interaction, thus viewing the God in the change. Finally, I also want to especially thank Laura, the director for the week, as through her strong love and determination to bring Christ to those around her, she provided for me an example of how to live that I will not forget. This summer we have had the opportunity to meet and work with many strong passionate women in the church, and each one has empowered and challenged me in incredible ways and for that I am grateful.

Peace,

Sara

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Youth Peace Travel Team – Inspiration Hills Camp

IMG_7999Cicadas! Cicadas! Cicadas! Oh my! This past week the team had the joy to be amidst senior high campers at Inspiration Hills in Ohio. We quickly learned that this was “the summer of the cicadas.” Their deafening buzz, hum, or screech, as some would describe it, left us wondering if we would run into anymore cicadas before their time passes (around July 4th) until the next cica
da summer in seventeen years. With this fascination of cicadas, we would like to share some interesting facts about this peculiar creature.IMG_7352

1. Cicadas will land on you if you are using lawn equipment because they will think you are also a cicada.
2. Cicadas have five eyes.
3. People eat them… but the peace team was not that adventurous.
4. Cicadas pee and it’s called cicada sap. We probably got hit by it and didn’t even notice.
5. You can find other facts at this website dedicated to cicadas. http://www.cicadamania.com/cicadas/the-most-interesting-17-year-cicada-facts/

What a way to start the summer! From building a cabin, to swimming out to the dock, to singing songs of praise, our week at Inspiration Hills brought us closer together as a team and to those that call this camp their home. I greatly appreciated the willingness of all campers and counselors to learn and participate as we ran our workshops for the first time. It was particularly heartwarming to hear that many used the word “safe” to describe their feelings after a challenging activity dealing with interpersonal conflict resolution. Participating together in conversations about how we each choose to live out our peace witness daily was also particularly powerful as a diversity of opinions were able to be expressed in this safe space. We all left the week with many new friends, things to ponder, and stomachs full of excellent campfire biscuits and popcorn!

Peace,
Sara

What’s up my Shalom-makers? We just wrapped up our first week of camp, and it was AWESOME. The staff and the campers were so welcoming and engaged in learning more about peacemaking. It was great to hear them all participate in discussion and activities, and it was also fun for us to hang out with them for camp activities! Some of my favorite parts were hanging out on the dock in the lake, making kettle corn in a massive cast iron bowl over the fire, helping construct a cabin (that wasn’t part of the original plan, but it was fun!), Coffee House night, worship in The Crater™, and eating peach cobbler. I’m going to miss the counselors, staff, and campers at Inspiration Hills, but I’m so hyped for Mardela and my first ride on an airplane! I definitely won’t be missing the cicadas, though. 17 years isn’t long enough.

Peace out,
Phoebe Hart

Hello and good tidings!! Our week was filled with resurrecting a cabin, songs, and water games. That’s only a few of the fun things we did this past week. If you would like to follow up with the rest of our activities, you are welcome to ask the thousands of cicadas that accompanied our journey. A specific highlight for me was the feeling of running our workshops for the first team. It has been an honor to put in so much hard work with the three team members that stand beside me. I personally was pretty nervous, but the willingness to participate from the staff and campers at Inspiration Hills and the support of my team mates has filled me with a confidence of joy and love. I look forward to moving on with this joy but will miss the friends I have made along the way. But another friend worth knowing is down the road!

Blessings, Kiana

Hello my good friends! I am so excited that our summer at camps is underway! This week was full of inspiring moments, seeing campers new to the camping open up and step out of their comfort zone, witnessing counselors new to counseling take campers under their wing and be excellent role models to the campers, and experiencing everyone feel safe about their beliefs in an exercise that forced participants to be vulnerable and share their opinions. On another note, it was nifty to see how camp dynamics changed throughout the week as counselors and campers became more comfortable with each other and interacted more and more. With such a small group, everyone was pretty close by the end of the week. My highlights were making popcorn over a fire and swimming in the lake.

Peace, Love, Mermaids and Mermans
Jenna

Youth Peace Travel Team 2016 – Orientations!

YPTT 2016 and their mentors. From L to right, back row: Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey, Sarah Neher, Chelsea Goss, Dana Cassell. Front row, L to R: Phoebe Hart, Sara White, Kiana Simonson, and Jenna Walmer.

Hello friends! The 2016 Youth Peace Travel Team is so excited to start sharing our experience with y’all this summer! We just finished up our Ministry Summer Service (MSS) training and are enjoying the first week of camp. We want to introduce ourselves a little bit and get y’all acquainted to the blog again for the summer. Each week there will be an introduction about where we are and each team member will share a little bit about their favorite experience that week.

Hello everyone! At MSS, I really enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and creating new friendships. I appreciated the time shared laughing in community, but also the spiritual discussions we had through lectio divina, examen, and other lessons throughout the week. My favorite moment during training was when we pulled into the hotel parking lot and “Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey came on the radio and we all sang it at the top of our lungs.
Can’t wait to share more exciting experiences throughout the summer!

Peace, Love, and Pineapples, Jenna

Greetings friends! We have finished up training and arrived at our first camp. Training was full of connection, community, learning, and love. I am always awestruck by the number of gifts the young adults of the church bring when we gather. I feel beyond blessed to be supported by such grace and sophistication. The Youth Peace Travel Team (YPTT) was able to spend time with representatives from On Earth Peace, Outdoor ministries, Church of the Brethren, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Learning more in-depth information about the organizations and spending time with the faces of each extension of the church was an enriching experience. Exploring our call to peace and service with those of us a little older and wiser was an experience that I will be able to carry with me in my pocket as the team moves forward. The team then joined with fellow MSS interns to build a community of those serving and exploring vocation this summer. The week was filled with laughter and building friendships that we will also carry with us as we travel around the country this summer.

I am thankful for all of the learning we have done so far. But above all, I am thankful for the love that surrounds us as the YPTT, as members of the church, as friends, and as children of God. We are blessed. We are members of one family.

Blessings, Kiana

Greetings all! Over the past two weeks of training I have been blessed to get to know and share many growth experiences with my fellow YPTT members and Ministry Summer Service interns. Particular special for me was the opportunity for us all to plan and lead the Wednesday morning chapel service for those in the Elgin offices. We chose the theme of hope, reading from Romans 8: 22-28. As I head out this summer, I am hopeful for the opportunity to connect with Brethren from around the country, united by our common call to follow the life of Jesus. In visiting the offices in Elgin as well as Bethany Theological Seminary, I found a special sense of connectedness and support as we all head out on this journey together. I hope that we can share this spirit of community, and through it Christ’s spirit of peace, with all of the campers we encounter this summer.

In peace, Sara

Hey, y’all! I am so excited to be at our first camp. Training has been so great, both at YPTT orientation and MSS orientation. At Bethany Theological Seminary, I really enjoyed learning from professors and eating dinner with church leaders and friends of the Youth Peace Travel Team. We had three really great leaders for the week – Bekah, Marie, and Nate. They all had a lot of good advice and wisdom to share.
When that was over, we went to Ministry Summer Service orientation in Elgin, at the main offices of the Church of the Brethren. My favorite part of training was, again, getting to eat dinner with different people around the area. One night we met some amazing local leaders in the church and got to have a sort of “panel” with them. Though the invite wasn’t exclusively given to women, the leaders in attendance were all amazingly inspiring female pastors and leaders in the church, and hearing about their journeys was a wonderful experience. I also really loved talking with my mentor throughout training, because I got to learn a little about her time on YPTT and we got to discuss what it might be like this summer. I’m pumped to see what the rest of the summer holds!

Phoebe

Youth Peace Travel Team 2015 – Camp Swatara (again!)

campfire rock pileart projectspeace and donuts

Well friends, this is it. Our last post as YPTT 2015. It has been an awesome ride and journey through our summer of teaching and learning about peace together. We couldn’t have done anything without the help of all of you wonderful people! We also would like to issue a HUGE THANK YOU to our sponsors, Church of the Brethren (Youth/Young Adult Ministry and Office of Public Witness), On Earth Peace, Outdoor Ministries Association, and Bethany Seminary! These are the beautiful people that make the experience of YPTT possible. So a big thank you to them, and also to all the people that we have met along the way who gave us advice or even just a friendly smile, you helped us through our summer together! Another thank you to all the camps we attended and their great staff and awesome campers! Without all those people, Youth Peace Travel Team would just be a summer of us traveling around talking to one another and accomplishing nothing! We are so grateful and so blessed to have been a part of YPTT 2015, so thank you to all who helped make it happen. On to our final blog post (sniffle).

We spent our final week together at Camp Swatara, attending and helping with their “Wet and Wacky” Camp. The camp is very aptly named, as it was both wet and wacky the whole week! It was a very fun camp for us to end our summer on, and we had a great time! While at Swatara we also helped lead some sessions for the Big and Small Camp and the Girl Power Camp that were happening this week as well! Here for the last time are some of our thoughts from the week.

I can’t believe we just finished our last camp as the Youth Peace Travel Team! The last 10 weeks have gone by so quickly! Our final week of camp was a fantastic time spent at Swatara again! We helped out in a variety of ways including a little bit of morning praise, Bible and some peace sessions. We led our creation care activity with the intermediate aged, and elementary aged campers. The campers always impress me with their knowledge of environmental issues and solutions. Even the young elementary aged campers had a lot to offer! A big highlight of the week for me was all of the fun and crazy water games we got to play. This week was wet and wacky week at Swatara so we spent a lot of time in a swimming suit doing something exciting. We had pool parties and water games every day. Another pretty wacky aspect of the week was meal times. Each mealtime we had some sort of challenge that made eating slightly more interesting. Some of the challenges were eating in the dark, only talking n questions, no utensils, being tied to your neighbor and opposite day. Swatara was a really swell way to end the summer! – Annika

“Isn’t that wacky? Isn’t that zany?” These phrases seemed to be the battle cry this week, and it was excellent. This past week at Swatara was in many ways the perfect week to end a summer on. The camp itself was crazy and high energy and helped us all to forget how tired we really were, and the campers and staff were awesome! This week we got to hang out and join in on a lot of the wacky and wet activities that happened around camp, such as “Organized Chaos” which is as wacky and wet as it sounds and pool parties and beach parties and all around fun! We also got the chance to lead a couple sessions for the youth, which was awesome! We again led our Creation Care session that focuses on sustainability and caring for the Earth, and got to hear some incredible ideas on how to do that from the campers. We also got to lead some bible times for the different camps that were going on! We led a session about John Kline and Sarah Major that we call our Peace/Faith in Action session! (Shoutout to Nell, who was John Kline’s horse, who we represented with a homemade stick horse. She was beautiful and traveled to 7 different states with us.) A highlight from the week for me was the sacred campfire that we had Thursday night. We created torches out of branches and towels and the counselors carried them down to the lake where we had a floating campfire that we lit and had our service next to. It was a beautiful sight. This week was so awesome and it was the perfect to wrap up our wacky (and wet at times) summer!!

P.S. Thank you to my teammates Annika and Brean. It’s been an incredible ride together, thank you for your ministry and for your part in the awesome experience that YPTT is. Blessings to you both as you continue to spread the peace. – Kerrick

This week at Swatara’s Wet and Wacky camp, I have learned that letting nearly fifty campers loose with mud, shaving cream, ice, Jell-O and feathers is probably both a genius and crazy idea. But that was right along with the theme of the week, and the kids seemed perfectly happy to go along with it-and so did I! I mostly enjoyed the themed dinners, from the resource staff dressing up “fancy”-and coming out looking like we were from different time periods-to only being able to speak in questions. All the themes were equally challenging and wacky. The camp activities were plenty wet too, with both a beach party and a pool party. The water was cold sometimes! A funny moment was when staff started leading dancing and exercising to keep the kids warm, although most of it was just jumping around. Besides the wet and wacky, I also enjoyed hike day, and revisiting the rock pile. The view of everything was just as beautiful as before. All in all, this week was a wonderfully fun week to close the summer on. – Brean

Well there it is. The last blog post from YPTT 2015. Thank you to Camp Swatara for the excellent last week, and for allowing us to have our debriefing there after the week was done. If you haven’t made it out to Camp Swatara, you most definitely should take a visit, it is truly a wonderful place! Another big thank you to YOU for reading and supporting us in our journey this summer, YOU ROCK! Blessings in all that you do, and as always, keep spreading the beautiful message of peace and love. Thank you all again. We love you.

Signing off for the last time, the YPTT 2015.

Youth Peace Travel Team 2015 – Adventure Camp

Bird's eye view by the river gathered by the slidejpg on top of a rock Team

Hello friends! We are winding down on our summer, but that doesn’t mean we’re not having just as much fun as before! We spent the past week in North Carolina, at the Brethren United Adventure Camp (or the Brethren United Mountain Adventure Trip, BUMAT for short, as Camp Bethel calls it.) This camp is hosted by Camp Carmel, run by Camp Ithiel, and also attended this year by Camp Bethel, Camp Brethren Woods, Camp Inspiration Hills, and Camp Harmony!! Each of the six camps had campers and counselors that they sent and we all got to hang out and do adventure trip things together! We all had a blast, and here are some of our thoughts from the week! Thanks for reading!

Adventure camp was super exciting!  Campers and staff from six camps all got together for a giant week of excitement.  We had a new adventure every day.  On our first day we hiked to a natural waterslide. There we got to slide down a gentle waterfall along rock into a pool of water.  On the second day we hiked all the way up to the top of a mountain.  Once we got to the top we could see clouds moving in and they came right on top of us on the mountain.  It was so beautiful, we could see for miles (when the clouds were not in the way). The last day of camp was the busiest.  We went to a high ropes course, tubing on a river, and to a park.  It was so fantastic to spend all day hiking and exploring while getting to know campers. In addition to adventuring the Youth Peace Travel Team lead morning watch, a peace session in the middle of the day, and campfire every night.  A highlight for me was Faith in Action day where we did a session on John Kline and peaceful problem solving.  The horse prop named Nell that we use has now been to seven states!  I also really enjoyed hiking to the top of the mountain and playing Ultimate Frisbee in the park. – Annika

What a week! It was so busy and tiring, I found myself sleeping any chance I received, but I had so much fun! The views we saw while out hiking were breathtaking and so new to me-it was my first time seeing such a grand waterfall, and being on top of a mountain. The views and fresh, light air make me want to live the mountains, even if I’ll have to be walking up hills much of the time, and there were many steep hills. I’m just happy that being up so high didn’t scare me-I found it exhilarating…especially on the ropes course we went to on Thursday. I was expecting that I wouldn’t do well on it, since I have been doing poorly on other high ropes courses this summer, but most of Thursday’s course proved to be a test of courage and balance-not too much strength was needed, which I lack. I was so proud of myself for reaching the third and hardest level on the course, even if it was just because I wanted to propel down from the top. With all the new and exciting experiences, as well as the awesome and fun staff and campers who we accompanied, it truly was an adventure camp. – Brean

This week put the FUN in ADVENTURE(FUN)CAMP! J This was the first time that the YPTT had ever attended this camp and it was a blast. We played the role of resource people, so we led Morning Watch each day and led a quick peace session in the afternoons and then led Campfire/Vespers at night! In between all of that, we got to hang out with the campers and join them on the adventuring that the week was all about! One of my favorite parts of the week was that each morning and each night a different camp was in charge of leading songs for the group. This meant that all the campers and staff there got to experience a little bit of what the YPTT hears all summer, which is a bunch of new, different versions of the good ol’ camp songs! Another awesome thing was that each day brought new adventures, and with those came new spots for our sessions or campfire! Throughout the week we led sessions at a big rock on a hike to a natural rock water slide, on top of a mountain, and at a beautiful park! We also got to have a campfire on the side of a mountain one night. It was so beautiful every place we went, and it made the sessions that much better! This was our largest group of all senior high youth all summer, so it was a lot of fun to get to interact with them. The whole week was super excellent, from the sessions to the adventures, to the amazing food that Carmel had for us, to just being able to play games and have fun with the campers and staff! Whoooo! – Kerrick

We had an awesome time at adventure camp, and would like to send a major thank you to all the camps who helped make it happen, (Ithiel, Carmel, Bethel, Brethren Woods, Harmony, and Inspiration Hills) you all made the week great and are doing great things with your ministry!! This is our second to last week, so as we wind down with our journey, we’d also like to thank everyone that helped get us to this point, YOU ROCK!! And also, a huge ‘Thank You’ to YOU for reading our blog again, blessings to you in all that you do!

P.S.- Shout-out to Camp Bethel for helping shuttle us to and from BUMAT and throughout the week, you guys are AWESOME!!! (And a shout-out to “Gus Bus” our fantastic van that handled all types of terrain!)

Youth Peace Travel Team 2015 – Camp Bethel

artwork challenge course games team shot

Hello again friends! We have just finished up our second week of camp, this time at the amazing Camp Bethel! Camp Bethel is HUGE and incredibly beautiful! It seems like almost everyone we’ve met out east has some sort of connection with this camp, and now we get to share in that! Here are some of our thoughts from the week! Hope you enjoy!

What can I say about Camp Bethel? First of all, the camp itself in absolutely massive, but secondly, it is not even big enough to hold all of the energy and incredible fun that all the wonderful people bring with them! This camp prides itself on being a family style camp, even though their camper numbers are super high! It was truly awesome to get to interact with all the super enthusiastic staff and campers throughout the week! I got the opportunity to go on a canoe trip with one of the units, and it was without a doubt a highlight of the week! Another highlight was getting to work with the Day Camp that Bethel puts on! The YPTT got to lead a session with each of the six units at this camp (all elementary students). We led some fruit of the spirit discussion and games and some fruity songs as well! It was super fun and filled with all the energy and excitement that young kids bring! Another highlight from the week was getting to sing and goof off with all the campers and staff throughout the week. There were constantly games and songs that we were always more than welcome to jump into and join! Camp Bethel was most definitely an incredibly fun and exciting week! – Kerrick

What a fun week at Camp Bethel! The staff here has the highest amount of energy that I’ve ever seen in a camp staff. It was so awesome! Singing is a part of almost every camp, but at Bethel it is a GIGANTIC part of camp and worship. We sang songs after every meal, before worship and units would sing as they walked between activities. I loved hearing familiar repeat-after-me songs that I could join in on everywhere I went. Bethel offers a free Day Camp and over 80 children registered. YPTT spent two days with them. Our first day we led sessions with the elementary students about the fruit of the spirit and the second day we led cardboard games. It was such a joy to spend time interacting with the little ones. Another highlight was skit night. Each unit performed a skit that they created. Some were even based off of funny events that happened during the week. Camp Bethel was quite an exciting time. – Annika

The first thing I noticed about Camp Bethel was the water. There were streams winding their way throughout the camp, and a couple shallow ponds. I found the setting to be very peaceful. Yet as people began arriving the peace was quickly balanced by incomparable energy and enthusiasm. There were so many people, and so much energy that I was a bit overwhelmed at times-but song time was a blast. It was interesting to get to know a camp that was so different from my home camp (Mardela) in both size and worship styles. The people who call Bethel home are so different than those from Mardela, and it was fun getting to know them and doing my best to keep up with them at song time. I especially loved visiting campers and staff during “Home in the woods,” when people sleep out in the woods for a night. One group fed me! Around the fire, I was able to interact with some cool people, and was sad to depart the camp early on Friday for National Junior High Conference before being able to get to know these people more. Overall, Bethel was a unique experience. – Brean

Thank you for reading and sharing in a part of our wonderful journey around the camps! Thanks to Camp Bethel for the wonderful and exciting week! Until next time friends, spread the peace! – YPTT 2015

 

Youth Peace Travel Team 2015 – ECHO Workcamp

group  hand in beansbuilding  open storeturtle planting beach

Hello from Florida again friends! We spent the last week as directors for the workcamp down here in Fort Myers at ECHO Global Farm! We got to not only help lead devotions for the youth, but also got the chance to work alongside them. It was an excellent experience for all of us, and here are some of our thoughts from the week.

I was already excited to see ECHO again, as I went there as a workcamper back in 2009. Having that experience gave me some know-how, but it didn’t help me “know how” to be a director – that was the biggest difference! But I still had a great experience at both the farms and with my campers. These campers were an awesome, hard working, energetic and song-loving group. Sing-alongs were a must during the week. But it wasn’t all play. The work was dirty and tiring, and we drank so much water. We were all inspired to live more mindfully of the earth and the resources we use. I daydreamed about having my own garden of multi-use plants and produce. My parents say that I came home daydreaming about a garden back in 2009 too! ECHO must have a great impact on people as well as their staff. Proving just how dedicated to their spiritual calling, two elders of ECHO prayed for me for something I’ve been struggling with. I was definitely happy to be back. The beautiful gardens, the wonderful staff, and the great campers made it an unforgettable experience – one that was definitely worth the fire ant bites!  – Brean

Last week the Peace Team played the role of the director, which was new for everyone. I really enjoyed ECHO for many reasons. I love the philosophy they have on global farming and helping people around the world learn how to grow their own food. Food insecurity is something that interests me a lot so ECHO was a perfect opportunity to learn about and participate in helping to alleviate that problem. Echo has sections of the farm that replicate different regions of the world including: rainforest, mountain, wetlands, semi-arid, urban farming, community garden, and more. I worked in semi-arid by weeding and planting okra. I also worked in the community garden by hauling and mixing sand and soil to raise the beds in the garden. I haven’t ever done farm work so ECHO was very new and exciting. On our free day we got to go to Barefoot Beach. It was gorgeous! We got to swim and dolphins swam by us about 200 meters away! We also found crabs, sand dollars and sea stars; I’ve never seen that much wildlife in the day at the beach. It was wonderful! – Annika

This past week at ECHO was a wonderful time! We played the role of director and worked alongside one of the workcamp coordinators (shout out to Hannah). We had a great group of campers and advisors that we got to lead through devotions and just hang out with. During the day we would all head over to ECHO Global Farms where they would split us up into different work groups that would go with interns at the farm to work for the day. And when I say work, I mean WORK! It was tough work of all kinds, from weeding and planting to building shelters to mulching and everything in between! And on top of that it was in the Florida heat! But our campers persevered and did an excellent job! Everyone was always tired when we broke for lunch and at the end of the day, but then we could rest knowing that we had done great work for an amazing cause. The staff at ECHO were all super great and helpful, and incredibly excited to have our help for the week! One of my highlights was getting to work with a big group of campers to replace one of the shade coverings at the nursery. We spent all our workday up on ladders or running tools around to take boards down and put new ones back up! The coolest part was that it couldn’t be done as a one-person job; we needed everyone and all had to work together to get the job done! Another highlight was how welcoming the Saving Grace Church of the Brethren in Fort Myers was to our camp. They let us use their building, and also had a cookout meal and concert for us one evening! ECHO was a great experience and an excellent week! -Kerrick

We all greatly enjoyed the week at ECHO, and if you ever get the chance to go down to Fort Myers and volunteer there, we definitely recommend it! (Although maybe not in July) J Thanks to everyone who helped make this workcamp happen and thank you to all who took time to read our blog post here! Blessings to you all!

Youth Peace Travel Team 2015 – Camp Ithiel

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Hello friends! We just finished up a very energy filled and exciting week at beautiful Camp Ithiel! We had 49 junior high youth there with us for the wonderful journey that is church camp! Camp Ithiel gave us the opportunity to lead a session everyday with the youth, (Two sessions actually, because we could only do half the group at one time), which was super awesome! We also got to hang out and join in on the rest of the activities throughout the week!

At the beginning of the camp week, I was adjusting to both the hot weather and the number of junior highers attending – 49 in total! It was such a diverse group, and I loved it! During Vespers, the kids turned singing songs into dancing for Jesus, and the energy was almost overwhelming. We also enjoyed our sessions with the campers, especially since it was the first time we had a chance to do all five of our topics. As the week went on, the campers offered more and more insightful comments, so I really hope that they continue to be passionate about peace. Outside of sessions, the campers were so much fun to play with: nine-square-in-the-air, gaga ball, and then even a crazy game of clothes pin tag! I loved the camp and their staff, and I’m enjoying my time in Florida.

-Brean

I had a fantastic week at camp Ithiel! It is such a unique camp because it is located right in the middle of an Orlando suburb, while most camps that we have visited are out in the middle of nowhere.

This week 49 junior high campers came to camp!  There haven’t been that many campers at Ithiel in years. Each camper was so unique and full of energy. The campers came from very diverse backgrounds and it was such a joy to get to know them.

On Thursday, I was sorting the recycling and one of the campers came to help me. I said, “Thanks for your help” and he told me that he didn’t like what happened to his sustainable village when they were destroyed yesterday, so he wanted to become actively involved in living more environmentally friendly. On Wednesday, we had done our Creation Care workshop where the campers designed an environmentally sustainable village and then when they finished the YPTT drew in business, coal mines, etc, to show what happens to the environment when new industries are built. I was so happy that he continued to think about the topic the day after the session!

Another part of the week that I really enjoyed was going to worship with the campers. A couple times a bunch of the campers and staff started dancing as we sang. It was a completely different worship experience than I’ve ever had, but it was AWESOME to see how joyful they were!

-Annika

Camp Ithiel is an incredible place. As you are driving into it, you are completely surrounded by suburban neighborhoods and then Boom! There’s the camp entrance, and a whole new world behind it.

This week was an excellent experience for us on the YPTT, the staff were so welcoming and great! And the campers. The campers were CRAZY!! And I mean that in the best way possible! They were all so full of energy and it was such an great opportunity to get to work with them and try to channel that energy into the activities we had planned in our sessions!

One of my highlights of the week was the chance to join the campers in their Rec Choice time, playing alongside them in volleyball and soccer and all other types of games! Another highlight was getting to do our sessions with the youth. It was definitely challenging at times to get them to pay attention, but when we succeeded the ideas that they had were so insightful and awesome! This week was definitely a fantastic experience that challenged me, but at the same time was incredibly rewarding!

-Kerrick

Camp Ithiel is a beautiful place full of beautiful people, and we definitely want to thank them for a wonderful week! We greatly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the youth each day and the chance to hang out alongside them as well! Our summer as the YPTT is flying by and we would like to thank the people who have been praying for our ministry and for us! Thank you for all you do! Until next week, so long! Keep spreading peace and love!