Each summer, MCH youth have a chance to rejuvenate and grow closer to God through summer mission trips and Christian camps.
This year, MCH youth had the option to travel with Spiritual Development staff to off-campus trips including Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission (CTCYM) in Lovington, New Mexico; Glen Lake Camp and Retreat Center in Glen Rose, Texas; and United Methodist Action Reach Out Mission by Youth (U.M. ARMY) in Longview, Texas, as part of a partnership with Kingwood United Methodist Church. For the final trip opportunity, students were led by recreation and other staff to the Shepherds of the Ozarks camp in August.
“We consider attending a Glen Lake Camp or a mission trip to be a privilege set aside for students who are seeking to grow in their relationship with Christ,” said Kim Clark, director of spiritual development. “We also take into consideration their level of responsibility and social and leadership skills. We take students who are able to take direction well, work hard, work with a team, are eager to deepen their relationship with Christ, and have a positive attitude.”
Eligible students fill out an application and must also have staff recommendations. They then must be approved by unit managers and administration with factors such as summer school, home visit schedules, and behavior being considered in the approval process.
Nikkie, age 15, attended the CTCYM trip as well as Glen Lake camp for the first time. She said she wanted to go on the mission trip because she likes to help others and felt it would be a good experience to spend some time away from campus. While on the trip, she worked with youth from different areas on three homes completing projects such as building wheelchair ramps, installing porch railings and making home repairs.
“When I came back I felt like a whole different person,” Nikkie said. “Something had changed in me. I felt like God was telling me to work hard to get something done and to believe in myself.”
During camp, Nikkie said she gained a fresh perspective and enjoyed her time with other MCH youth.
“At Glen Lake my favorite thing was getting closer to MCH kids,” she said. “I feel like Spiritual Development and these trips are helping me get closer to God and closer to everyone else. You learn on these trips that God is always here.”
MCH staff from different areas accompanied seven youth to Shepherds of the Ozarks, a Christian conference and retreat center in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. During the trip, youth were able to explore an underground cavern, hike up to a cave and participated in a service project.
Clark said she has seen many positive transformations in the youth when they return from summer trips.
“I have had the pleasure of seeing lives changed, lives given to Christ and baptisms,” she said. “I have witnessed our kids being kids, laughing, having fun, and trying new things. I have seen relationships formed and others mended. I have witnessed students come back and be the catalyst for change in their homes and our community.”