Youth Events, Retreats, & FAQ’s
Bethel Youth aims to organize the following events on a yearly basis:
- Retreats (Cost: approximately $135-150 each)
- Weekend conference (Cost: approximately $75-100)
- Major summer event (Cost: varies)
- – Youth Missions trips
- – High School National Youth Conference (Challenge) once every 2-4 years
- – Middle School adventure trip (canoeing, climbing, white water rafting, etc)
It is important to recognize that these major events are perhaps one of the greatest investments you can make in your child’s current and future spiritual well-being.
Why do we do youth events?
What goes on at retreats?
What about fundraisers?
Why do we do youth events?
Studies have shown—and I have personally witnessed—that one of the greatest indicators of a youth’s serious involvement in anything is the relationships they enjoy in that context. What this means in practical terms is that if your child knows and enjoys being around their youth pastor, small group leader, and peers in the youth group, they will pursue Christ in the context of his church more passionately and with more dedication.
Trips of more than a day provide youth with an opportunity to develop deeper relationships with others on the trip: different circumstances, new challenges, extended time together, and unique memories are vital parts of forming more authentic friendships. Our lives are hugely impacted by the company we keep: who do you want your children to be closest with?
These extended periods of time provide us as a youth staff with opportunities to delve deeper and more repetitively into a topic, which enhances impact and memorability. While the “spiritual high” of a weekend retreat may fade, we go to great lengths to train youth on these trips how to pursue God in personal devotion time and honor Him in every and circumstance. We also take care to foster an atmosphere of love that provides an extended experience of the love of Christ among the group, which helps your child grow to love the church and the people in it more and more.
Quite simply: youth who attend retreats experience God in ways impossible to convey in a few hours a week in a church building. They are also much more likely to enjoy and be excited about being a part of youth group and Sunday school.
What goes on at retreats?
In order of priority, we…
…teach from God’s Word and worship Him.
…build loving relationships.
…have fun and make memories.
Each retreat offers different activities and themes depending on time of year and location, but all fall and winter retreats include these vital elements.
If I have to budget…which are the most important?
In order of importance…
- Retreats: these build and revitalize relationships crucial to our year-round ministry. These are Bethel-only, home-built trips that allow us to guarantee a high level of emphasis on God’s word, spiritual development, and relational growth. They are GREAT for bringing friends and new attenders into our group and helping them feel like an important part of our ministry.
- Major Summer Events: these are typically longer and more expensive, which means a smaller set of our group may be involved. Some, such as missions trips, are more valuable in developing relationships and character, while others, such as the Challenge conference, tend to be more exciting but more shallow.
- Weekend conferences: events such as Acquire the Fire and Dare2Share are generally good experiences and worth the time and money, but as they are put on by organizations other than our own it is harder to guarantee depth of programming. Like Challenge conference, they are often high intensity and exciting, and good for bringing friends for their high production quality, but sometimes don’t produce as much depth. These events gather youth from other churches, cities, and states, which may distract from deepening relationships with people from our local church who have a more profound everyday impact.
What about fundraising?
When you plan a trip for a vacation or wedding, you don’t hold a fundraiser: you make a budget and start saving. We feel that the same should be said for the smaller conferences and retreats your child makes with Bethel. We do our best to keep these costs manageable: our weekend retreat registration fees cover ONLY the cost of lodging, food, and activities, along with some (usually not all) of the transportation costs. The other expenses and time involved in planning and implementing these trips are subsidized by Bethel Church and volunteers.
When it comes to larger events such as missions trips or week-long events, we understand the expense can become more significant. To this end, we plan to hold one major fundraising event each year, with maybe one or two smaller events to supplement. These fundraisers are not intended to cover the entire cost of the event, but to make them more manageable and get the bigger church involved in what the youth are doing. If you as a parent are dissatisfied with this arrangement, we invite you to consider taking on a volunteer role as fundraising coordinator–and this is not in jest: fundraisers are limited because our current staff and volunteers do not have the time to do ministry well and also administrate fundraisers. A coordinator who would plan and implement additional fundraisers would likely be well-appreciated by parents and students.
The bottom line is that the purpose of Bethel Church is to invest in spiritual and relational development, not to become an employer of youth. Fundraisers are “easy” for youth, but often require incredible amounts of time and energy by volunteers and staff–and the limited time and energy we currently have available we feel is better used for spiritual development and training.
Scholarships are always available
We at Bethel understand both the spiritual and relational importance of trips and retreats, it is our sincere desire that no student who wants to go on a trip should miss out on that opportunity for financial reasons. To this end, we provide need-based scholarships.
God has different callings for each of us, which means that financially not everyone in our church is able to afford each trip and/or event. However, we strongly believe that God desires everyone to know Him intimately and be an integral part of his church. To make this possible for all, Bethel, along with individual donors, make scholarship funds available to help those in need.
We do not require documentation such as W-2s or tax returns to verify eligibility. We simply ask that each participant pay as much as they can reasonably afford, and we will cover the difference in cost—you only need ask. Please note that the recipients of scholarship aid are not publicly disclosed, and our only major requirement is that if a fundraiser is offered to support an event or trip, scholarship recipients MUST participate in the fundraiser.
We may not offer full scholarship support for more purely entertainment-based activities, such as concerts or amusement park trips: when this is the case, it will be clearly noted. We reserve the right to refuse scholarship aid to those who are under church discipline, or who abuse our scholarship program (ie. those who request funds who could reasonably afford the trip or live extravagant lifestyles that would indicate the ability to do so). Bethel also has resources available to those who need help budgeting or managing their finances.