Adventures in Leadership impacts NWC students, expands to other conferences

AIL-2012-NewsCan high schoolers lead? Sure they can lead their peers, but can they lead the church? The Northwest Conference is banking on it.

Developing strong Christian leaders is a core value woven throughout the NWC’s priorities. For over 20 years, they’ve fostered this value with high school student leaders via Adventures in Leadership, an experiential leadership challenge in the north woods of Minnesota.

This annual leadership development experience took place June 16-23. Twenty-one high school students and a group of youth pastors and wilderness guides joined together at Adventurous Christians in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) where they learned what it means to be a Christian leader.

“Participants were challenged in conversations, teaching times and time out on the trail, to discover what gifts and talents God has given them for leadership and how they need to steward those gifts in ministry and in their communities,” said Ginny Olson, NWC director of youth ministry. “They discovered how their personality impacts their leadership, how to collaborate together under difficult circumstances, how to cultivate a disciplined spiritual life, and how to serve sacrificially when that’s the last thing you want to do.”

This year, the group experienced over five inches of rain while on their 4-day canoe trip in the BWCA. Being a servant leader took on new meaning for the students as they slogged through soggy and sometimes overgrown portages, carrying packs and canoes, while soaked to the core.

“They learned how to make difficult decisions for the team and to consider the needs of others before their own,” said Jon Kramka, NWC director of congregational vitality, and a key planner and facilitator of the event.

Upon their return to base camp, common themes voiced by the students were: the importance of relying on God as they discovered their own leadership abilities in relation to the leadership role, a realization that they actually could lead others, and a deeper appreciation for their teammates—and for dry socks.

As youth pastors around the country wrestle with how to develop strong leaders among their students, Adventures in Leadership is becoming recognized by others as a strong and effective way to raise up young leaders. In late July, youth pastors from several other conferences will head to Adventurous Christians to experience this leadership adventure with some of their students.

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