Now More Than Ever: Why I’m Passionate about Sending Teens to Camp
by Isaac Bennett
Awakening Teen Camps
Years ago, when I signed up to be the director of Student Ministries at IHOPKC, I told my supervisor at the time that I would not be a typical “youth pastor.” What that meant was less roller skating and pizza parties and more exposing youth to the raw power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Years later I still support that approach—and especially now in light of the current world crisis.
In the aftermath of COVID-19, as society starts to emerge from months of forced social isolation, the need for a deep foundation based on the person of Jesus is as evident as ever. The coronavirus helped expose that a relationship with God is about more than going through the motions or attending service once or twice a week. All people, young and old, need to know Jesus truly, personally, and deeply.
While the isolation was difficult for most people, I know it was especially hard on teens. Peer relationships were cut off suddenly, normal rights of passage such as prom and graduation were suspended or limited to small or impersonal online interactions, and students were left without a clear sense of closure to the school year. Separated from their peers and barely able to leave their homes, some fell into depression or other negative attitudes and behaviors. Others have remained strong, going deeper in their faith, the Word, and prayer. Families faced varying levels of strain as some parents lost jobs. Life seems far less certain than it did six months ago.
At this time, I believe the need is greater than ever for teens to connect deeply with God and with each other. This is no ordinary summer, and life is not as “ordinary” as it used to be. In these unforeseen dynamics, creating a context for youth to seek the Lord with all of their heart is of the utmost importance. And while some are doing that through local church and fellowship meetings, I hunger to see teens connecting in person with one another around the person of Jesus.
That’s one reason why I’m so passionate about Awakening Teen Camps at IHOPKC. ATC helps young people encounter Jesus in an environment that is based on worship, prayer, and the Word of God. Rich relationships are formed and nurtured year after year, and many of our campers return to become counselors. As a parent myself, I relish the chance to send my child to a place where I know they will be challenged to grow in God—not just entertained. With so many of the youth feeling isolated or disconnected and families feeling strained, I can imagine their joy in connecting deeply and personally with their peers in a safe and God-fearing place that is set apart to lead them closer to Christ.
It’s also our heart to give parents a much-needed break. Rest assured, we have taken extra safety measures to ensure the well-being of all youth, and we are closely monitoring conditions leading up to camp. Safety and security are of the utmost importance. Should you have further concerns, I would encourage you to read this letter from Lenny La Guardia, executive director of Summer Camps and VP of Ministries.
It is our delight at IHOPKC to be part of healing hearts after the relational strain of the coronavirus. Four or seven days for a junior or senior high student of connecting with Jesus and their peers in a dynamic environment can go a long way in marking a young person’s life. Some even find their calling in such a place and make decisions that impact their future for years to come.
We are as excited as ever to welcome teens to Awakening Teen Camps this summer at IHOPKC. Will your precious young person be among them?
Teens desperately need meaningful connection with Jesus and with their peers. ATC exists to bring them closer to Him and help them grow in their faith and in their relationship with one another. Send them for a potentially life-changing week in Kansas City this summer! Learn more about ATC at ihopkc.org/atc.
- Lead Pastor, Forerunner Church
Isaac and his wife, Morgan, are full-time intercessory missionaries who serve at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. They have five children. Isaac is the lead pastor at Forerunner Church and an instructor at the International House of Prayer University. The Bennetts’ heart is to see day-and-night prayer established across the earth and the next generation called into wholehearted love for Jesus.