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Youth and Outdoor Ministry

The Southwest Conference is committed to the development of programs for children and youth to get away, live together, and explore God‘s presence in their lives. Our Youth and Outdoor Ministry provides many opportunities for youth to be involved including camps during the summer, retreats during the school year and leadership opportunities.

Thanking God for a Great Week in the Life of the SWC UCC

2014 Summer Camp

Super Hero Camp 2014 successfully graduated about 150 new Super Heroes of the Southwest Conference UCC! In addition to about 100 campers, 50 leaders (program staffers, counselors, deans, nurses and directors) all outdid themselves last week at Emmanuel Pines Camp in Prescott, Arizona.

We were also graced with some special guests: Grammi Pat Luttrell, special guest artist Elias Gonzales, Camp Recharge station leader Michael Curry, and Conference Minister John Dorhauer. Fun was had!

Capes and masks were worn! Talents were shared! Senior Highers actually went out into the world and helped with mission projects for two days of camp. I believe new relationships with each other and God were explored.

Michele Mellott, Camp Director

2014 Super Hero Camp Reflections
“It was fun. It was good. The counselors are great and talked all about what you are feeling. We talked about the different things that we study, that we focus on, I guess. There were family groups, and so we break up into our family groups and we talk about what the message of the day is.

One of the family groups will have a challenge. It’s a thing where we plan an exercise, which is where you read the Bible. The activities are fun.

I had tons of fun with my roommates. I hit the bullseye eight times. I also got world domination in sprout ball, had good friends, and was named best dancer in the cabin. It was just a great experience overall.”

2014 Camp

“Super Hero Camp was a week where everyone gave 100% of themselves and it was beautiful. Let me count the ways ...
1. Drum circle with John D. and super campers.
2. Archery with Bret and the youth.
3. Service work that included planting trees, helping the Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity in their thrift stores, and working with the Forest Service improving trails in the area.
4. Working with Steve and my family group.
5. The talent show - seeing the youth sing, dance, play guitar and drums, an awesome Hardy boys reading, and an amazing teenage stand up comic.
6. Learning again just how blessed the world is because these kids are in it.
7. God is Good”
Patti (AKA Poison Ivey)

2014 Camp

“I just want you to know how grateful I am for all that you and the conference did to make it possible for our kids to come to camp! I am excited to hear my kids’ stories tomorrow night!

The Conference showed such hospitality to our four kids that have never been away at camp before and made it so much easier for them (and us too!). We have six kids from the church.

Our youth group has been pretty inactive in recent years. I’m hoping this camp experience will be instrumental in reviving a group that is vital. I’m really hopeful. Thank you for everything!” Sue

2014 Camp

"The first one or two days at camp felt a little awkward and I sensed myself being self-conscious and anxious. I’ll admit I was a bit out of my comfort zone.

However, this changed drastically and very quickly. I had no idea that such strong and meaningful bonds could be made between people you’d just met a few days before, and how much I would learn about myself from this year’s camp experience.

I am extremely glad I went to camp this year, considering all the social, emotional, and spiritual growth I encountered. I know I will never forget Super Hero Camp 2014, and all the amazing people I’ve met."

2014 Camp

"It was really fun! I liked The Gap. I liked meeting the new counselors and campers and seeing old friends. I liked the trick of water balloons and the shaving cream war."

“When we went to camp it was super fun. One of my favorite things during the camp was archery. I cut up my fingers, but it was fun anyway.

During camp we slept in bunks and had a cabin leader. My leader was Brandi. She was pretty cool. We also had this thing called family group, and my family group mom was Lorry. She would get red vines (licorice), and we played games and sang songs.

I honestly did not think I would have made as many friends as I did. When camp ended I was so sad because all the friends I had made lived in Phoenix except for two, but we will keep in touch.

I love this first camp experience. It was so fun, and I hope I can go again next year.”

Michele: inventive, resourceful, fun-loving, compassionate, powerhouse for God!
Counselors: Inclusive, respectful, fun-loving, creative, Christkins themselves!
Campers: Can't wait till next year, Young Jrs. CRIED when they had to leave...happy all week. Asked several if they had ever been to camp before and those who had not and had come alone said they felt very welcomed, integrated, like home and family...what a great job everyone did! Aren't we UCC!!
Curriculum: WOW! Fun, imaginative, creative, Godly...well done faithful ones...hundreds of you!!
Camp surroundings and weather...just perfect!
Just Awesome.

2014 Camp

I just completed my fifth year as a senior high counselor for the Southwest Conference UCC Summer Camp. This year was awesome!

My Top 10 Reasons I Loved UCC Summer Camp 10. Meeting the one and only Baconator (Elias) super hero.
9. Hearing Lyam say what he liked best - "he gets to meet new friends!"
8. Eating a variety of different, delicious foods while laughing and singing.
7. Feeling pride seeing Weston lead by example as a senior high counselor.
6. Watching the campers support and encourage one another.
5. Having the privilege to discuss the gifts we each have to offer and owning our super hero-ness.
4. Learning how to paint with poop by Professor Shat (aka Rob) in the talent show. Ask him about it if you dare.
3. Hearing Emma sing two touching songs in beautiful harmony with some of her camp friends.
2. Saying I am an artist and making a craft for my Christkin (like a secret Santa).
1. Hearing several of the senior high campers say they love camp because it is the one and only place they can be their "true self" and it is their "best self" Rebecca

We had a great time and both want to come back to this camp, no other camp!
Clair and Paytorian
2014 Camp

"Camp was so much fun. I loved all the games and activities. I also really enjoyed seeing my old friends and making a lot of new friends this year. Overall, camp was great and I cannot wait to back."

“I learned that "you don't have to wear a cape and a fancy outfit to be a Superhero, you can do the right thing without anyone watching". Awesome! I loved Family Group Time, Boot Camp, my roommates, being in juniors, and having fun!”

"It was awesome! Its fun to see your friends every year. You get to go to the The Gap or do the Slip-N-Slide or go on a night hike. They have awesome games and songs."

2014 Camp

"I have been going to the Southwest Conference’s UCC. summer camp since 2007, and I must say that it has had a great impact on who I am today. For the past couple of years, I have been given the amazing opportunity to join the Youth Council, and lead camp with a group of very intelligent, kind, and selfless teenagers.

Working as fantastic role models, the team of people that I had the honor of working with changed these children’s lives forever. I can remember that when I was growing up, I looked up to the program staff, thinking that “I wanted to be just like them”.

I sure hope that our actions this week sent the children home from camp with massive smiles on their faces."

2014 Camp

"I had so much fun at camp because I made so many new friends and had so many great experiences. It will be in my memory for a long time and I am so happy I got the chance to go to that camp. I enjoyed all the activities that they had there and I know I will be going back...Hopefully as program staff!!! " Max

"This was my first year at camp. Even though it was my first it felt like my seventh. The things I liked about camp were the counselors who were kids at heart but responsible at the same time. I also enjoyed the low ropes because it helped build trust and it was just fun. I hope to come back next year with the same people and new friends."

2014 Camp

“It was my very first time at camp, and I was very nervous. When we got there I walked to the place where we would be sleeping and went to my room. I set my things on the open bed and sat down. One of the girls openly introduced herself, and right away I felt welcomed.

During the week I bonded with many people. The people at camp were so nice. I met some of the strongest teens I have ever met in my life. I thought it took a lifetime to make best friends like I did in one week. Some of the people I felt like I had known my whole life. These people made my first time at camp one of the best weeks in summer that I have ever had.

Towards the end of the week I got very sad. Some of the people I will probably never see again. The last night, Kelsy, one of the counselors, gave me an award for being the person who came out of her cocoon. I respect all of these people so much. They really touched my heart.

I really want to thank the UCC of Albuquerque for sending me to church camp and giving me the time of my life. Thanks to all.

2014 Camp

“Seeing our youth coming together and displaying so much love to one another was both one of the most spiritual and influential experiences I've had. After spending just one week with these kids, bonding during goofy camp activities with tears of joy, building everlasting friendships with one another, and sharing these experiences with the Divine,

I know we have an array of super heroes among us ready to step up and make the world a better place.”

2014 Camp

"My favorite part of camp was Family Group Time, because my group was great at communicating. Adia was so nice, supportive and motivated me, I am glad she was my cabin counselor! I enjoyed every minute of camp. The kitchen and program staff were amazing!"

Every kid was encouraged to find their own super power. Hillary’s super power was helping people and Eleanor’s was a laser shooting from her eyes! They both enjoyed Vespers, evening services, that encouraged the kids to make up their own skits and games. They made new friends. Eleanor feels that she has grown closer to God and herself by learning that, “When you look into another person’s eyes you can see we are the same and . . . all worthy of love.”

2014 Camp