Religious camps spiritually strengthen youth

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    By Liesel Enke

    According to some religious leaders, youth attending religious camps are strengthened in a morally declining society.

    “It”s difficult for youth to focus on spiritual things,” said Minister Charles Hines, from the Orem Community Church.

    Hines”s church holds a vacation Bible camp to help youth stay strong in their faith. He said many things distract youth from God.

    “Church was a place for fellowship,” Hines said, “But now we have the Internet, and the material pull is strong.”

    The Vacation Bible Camp, held July 15-19, teaches elementary aged youth Bible story values through songs, snacks and games.

    Hines said he hopes the camp will help keep youth strong in their faith.

    “I”m not so idealistic that Vacation Bible Camp will solve everything, but it can help,” Hines said.

    Duane Hiatt, director of editorial production for Continuing Education, also believes youth programs can help.

    Hiatt works with Especially For Youth, a program for youth based on the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Hiatt said he also believes youth from the Church of Jesus Christ face challenges living in society.

    “I think we”re seeing a big change in what is morally and ethically acceptable,” he said.

    EFY is used to help youth stay strong in their values.

    “We don”t anticipate (EFY) will perform miracles,” Hiatt said. “But we have received letters back from parents and youth who report dramatic changes.”

    He said the doctrinally based EFY program includes dances, speakers, leadership activities and devotionals.

    Youth worldwide attend BYU”s EFY sessions. Hiatt said he hopes the youth will go home strong enough to stand alone in upholding their values.

    Matt Brady, 20, a youth leader from Rock Canyon Assembly of God church in Provo said he feels youth today face problems with loneliness, depression and thoughts of suicide.

    “Kids today have a lot more pressure in high school,” Brady said.

    Around 20 youth from Brady”s congregation attend an annual camp in Colorado with 1500 members of their church.

    The weeklong camp includes activities, games and a nightly church service with guest speakers who generally encourage the youth to remember their purpose, Brady said.

    He said he has expectations for what the camp will give the youth from his church.

    “Each time they go, it is my hope that they strengthen their relationship with God,” he said.

    Youth from Rock Canyon Assembly of God have also spent time in Mexico doing humanitarian projects.

    Youth raised money to pay their own way to beautify a pastor”s home and to work at an orphanage, Brady said.

    The experience helped the youth, he said. “There was less wanting of things they don”t need.”

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