blog by Dave Sippel
I was planning a youth retreat several years ago. I wanted to create the space for an honest discussion about denominational distinctions. I wanted my youth to understand that each Christian denomination has unique traditions, doctrine, and guidelines for worship, sacrament, etc. I also wanted them to understand that, though we have our differences, our faith in Christ unites us as one big community.
I decided to take my youth to Camp Kulaqua near High Springs, Florida. Camp Kulaqua is a Seventh-Day Adventist camp. I knew that we would be faced with some new challenges that would stretch us and get us thinking. The camp was strictly vegetarian. Perhaps the biggest hurdle…caffeine would not be a part of our weekend. Also, camp activities would not be open on Saturday due to the observance of the Sabbath. No canoeing, swimming, etc.
My crew arrived on Friday evening. The staff greeted us warmly. We settled into our cabins and enjoyed a great nights sleep. Saturday morning we headed off to breakfast. As we entered the dining hall the host shouted, “Hey, are you all the meat eaters? We have a special line for you over here.” I thought, “Uh oh. There goes the object lesson for my morning devotion.” My kids enjoyed a hot breakfast and I pondered my options. It hit me suddenly. What a loving gesture this was!! This camp bent the rules for my group. This was truly an act of radical hospitality. My devotion that morning was inspired by this camp filled with loving Christians who wanted only to bless my group and make us more comfortable.
Youth will visit our groups from time to time. They bring a lot of questions with them. They bring their hopes, fears and anxieties, too. How are they greeted when they walk into our space? What kind of radical hospitality do we extend to them? How can we make them feel loved and welcomed? We have an opportunity to remind them, “You may be different but you belong in this community. Christ is the head of this family. Come on in. We have a special line for you over here.”
I’ll bet you’re wondering, “What about the caffeine?” There was none and my kids fell asleep before lights out on Saturday night. I’ve never slept so soundly on a retreat. Thank you Camp Kulaqua!!
Dave Sippel is a senior consultant for Youth Ministry Architects. Dave has worked in youth ministry since 1994. He’s served as a youth director at 3 of the largest United Methodist churches in the Florida Conference, consulted with churches from 18 states & 6 denominations, & is a coach for the Youth Ministry Institute. Dave is a regular speaker for camps, retreats, & youth ministry training events. He is a dedicated volunteer with his local church youth ministry. Dave is a graduate of Asbury College. He lives in Lakeland, FL with his wife, Teresa, & their sons; Grant and Cade.
Dave Sippel – Senior Consultant and Director of Connections
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