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The Saving Power of the Shared Experience

A great weekend recently spent skiing with friends and family at Granby Ranch reminded me of some favorite memories in youth ministry.

It was the winter of 1987 when I first donned a pair of skis on a trip with my youth group. On the bus ride up the mountain I was full of fear and anxiety, but skiing with my youth leaders, and falling all over the slopes with my best friends was an experience that I will never forget. In fact, it was that ski trip that helped solidify my life in youth ministry. It’s crazy how a shared experience can grow a community.

Here’s some of the power behind a shared-experience:

  1. Vulnerability wins the day. When students and youth leaders get vulnerable together (strapping skis on their feet, climbing a rock wall, zip-lining, etc.) relationships seem to take root faster.
  2. Outside the box thinking. It’s easy to get into a routine of only meeting with your group at the church (Wednesday night youth group, Friday night game night at the church, Sunday morning services, etc.), but we all know there’s a world outside of those four walls –and it’s important for our students to see how we live outside the “youth room”.
  3. “Remember that one time…” Shared experiences will always come fully-loaded with memories. I can remember as a 9th grader hearing the older students talking about stories (both amazing and grotesque) from camps, beach trips, etc. There was power in those stories–whether they were true or not, I couldn’t wait to get out there and make some for myself.

As budgets get tighter and your student’s availability becomes even more hampered with outside commitments and responsibilities-resist the urge to cut out shared experiences from the calendar. Yes, it means reserving the van, sending out permission slips, and planning a trip away from the church–but in my opinion these kind of experiences allow for the “magic” of youth ministry to do it’s thing!

Thanks for sharing your life with students.


Take your own family or youth group skiing at Granby Ranch! Visit for more info or to book your own trip!

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The Saving Power of the Shared Experi...

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