Reimagining Camp and Youth Ministry in the Southwest!

What can we offer as the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ that enables faith formation and transformation of young people, reflecting our Christ-centered values of a just and compassionate world for all?

Last year we began to face some hard realities of our Southwest Conference camp program.  While the roots and loyalties of our camp experience spread strong and deep in our conference, the current sustainability of our camp participation and program was in question. 

We had a wonderful “Roots and Wings” Camp 2018 this year in June, with 91 participating campers and counselors.  We were able to reduce our deficit spending from approximately $12,000 to $6,000 thanks largely to a raise in our camp fees.  Thanks to all who gave to the Sow the Seed fund and to your local churches to help our kids get to camp despite the higher fees! 

Now, as we look toward Camp 2019, we continue to reimagine camp…and not only camp, but what our entire vision is for youth ministry in our Southwest Conference! 

Rev. Jay Deskins

We’re excited to announce that we will join with our covenant partner, the Arizona Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in utilizing the leadership and expertise of their new Regional Youth and Children’s Minister, Rev. Jay Deskins.

As part of our ongoing discernment for how best to engage our youth in transformational faith experiences, we will contract with the AZ Region of the Christian Church for a number of ways to share Rev. Deskins in ministry together.

1.    Directing Camp 2019…what we are fondly beginning to call “DUCC Camp” (Disciples & UCC).  We will share sacred camp space and time for a joint week of camp June 16 – June 21, 2019.  There are a lot of commonalities in our camping programs, and we’ve shared on smaller scales in some previous years.  We feel now is the time when we can strengthen each other and consolidate cost and energy in efficient ways.  Camp will be held at Emmanuel Pines Camp, where we have held our camp for 15 years. Rev. Deskins will be the primary camp director/coordinator.  He will be working closely with SWC Associate Conference Minister Rev. Barb Doerrer-Peacock, to plan the joint camp experience to best give honor and integrity to important traditions, but also create new room for innovation.  

2.    Visioning and helping to implement additional transformational faith experiences with youth.  This may be in the form of a joint youth retreat or mission trip between the UCC and Disciples youth, and/or taking advantage of current event possibilities to empower youth to be involved beyond their world of familiarity.

3.    Offer logistical support for our SWC youth to be involved in our national UCC youth opportunities.

4.    Workshop/training leader for youth ministries: During the next year or two, we will offer opportunities for youth leaders and pastors to have some resourcing and training by Rev. Deskins in youth ministry.

We look forward to continuing to reimagine our youth and camp ministries to be transformational experiences!