Another two days of Plant Camp are in the books for the Noblesville Youth Group. As with the first two days, the itinerary has been chocked full of activities. The days have been long, but the work has been rewarding. On Tuesday the focus during the first half of the day was supporting one of the week-long Backyard Bible Clubs that kicked off. The teens were involved in all aspects, from setting up activities to assisting with games and face painting. The first day of the club we saw 15 children show up. Not a bad tally to get things started.
Following Bible club we made our way to Gospel Grace Church and ate lunch before assembling for preaching/instruction time. These times each day have consisted of great preaching and Power Group time, where we talk about the importance of being Christ-like while also identifying the challenges in everyday life that can derail our personal relationship with God. After the time of instruction, more canvassing through local neighborhoods was next on the agenda. This summer there are several groups that will come to serve at Plant Camp, but this is the only week they will focus on the community surrounding Gospel Grace Church. Getting the word out locally this week is particularly key, and between our teens and the youth groups from Wisconsin and California, the goal is to distribute 10,000 door hangers.
Teens and sponsors spent a few hours Tuesday afternoon putting out a fraction of those door hangers, as we had specific neighborhoods to cover. While we didn’t cover all our allotted areas, our efforts resulted in a majority of the neighborhoods being canvassed. The group wrapped up and returned to Gospel Grace Church for dinner and more time of preaching and teaching. We returned back to the house just after 10 p.m., and reflected on the day’s events in a time of fellowship and testimonies around the bonfire.
Wednesday began with a slightly more relaxed schedule. After getting up and heading out early in the previous two days, the morning was slightly more leisurely, with a full breakfast at the house (pancakes, bacon and eggs!). We departed after 9:30 and immediately returned to canvassing work, spending most of the morning covering local neighborhoods on foot. Our activities then focused on Gospel Grace Church. There we had another round of preaching and Power Groups before entering into a time of prayer followed by surveys and Church in the Park held at Liberty Park, which is located next to the church.
The NBC teens were divided up into two-person teams that were accompanied by a sponsor. Their challenge was to walk around Liberty Park, an expansive property that covers multiple acres in the heart of Salt Lake City, and conduct surveys. In these surveys they asked participants what they liked about the community, their beliefs, and other basic questions meant to help break the ice and begin a conversation. Sponsors remained at a distance, ready to step in and help as needed. Our teens did an outstanding job in engaging with the locals they found at Liberty Park, and some even joined us at 6:30 that evening when Church in the Park began.
Gospel Grace Church has hosted Church in the Park for the last few years with the intent to connect with the community. Wednesday’s event was the first of six that will be conducted this summer. The turnout was good, as guests came out for burgers and hotdogs, music, and a short message from Will Galkin. It was a great experience for our teens to see how a short conversation with a stranger can open the door to connecting with the local church.
We squeezed one final event into the day in the form of a youth group event. This time we split into groups and set out on a picture scavenger hunt around Salt Lake City. The goal was to fulfill as many items on the scavenger hunt list in a little more than an hour. It was a fun way to blow off a little steam and be silly. After completing the hunt, we made the familiar drive from Gospel Grace Church to the rental house, easing into the driveway after 11 p.m.
Our teens have packed a lot of experiences into a short amount of time. Seeing them bonding and forging deeper relationships with one another has been exciting to observe. We hope that these experiences will stay with them long after we leave Salt Lake City.
The challenge here throughout the week is to stay hydrated. While it is warm (80 degrees plus each day we’ve been here) and beautiful, the higher elevation and thinner air create a dry heat that is deceptive. For Hoosiers accustomed to humid conditions, it’s easy to think “we’re fine” because we’re not sweating heavily. In reality, we can be depleted more than we know. The staff at Plant Camp constantly stress hydration, and everyone in the group has done their part.
Pray that our energy levels would be restored daily. While the work is rewarding, the long hours are adding up. Pray that we will finish this week sprinting to the line, giving it our all in the process. Also, pray that we will remain in good health, tolerant of one another, and intent on glorifying God. The experience has been tremendous, and we thank all of you at home that have kept us in your prayers. We greatly appreciate it.