A week well spent!

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It’s been almost one week since our City Camp Summer Leadership trip ended and in the week that has followed we’ve taken some time to reflect on some of the incredible moments we got to share in as a team. We spent our week serving alongside the Muskoka Woods staff, sharing in leadership development sessions and having fun in community together. As we reflect on the week we can look back and see three key lessons we can take with us.

 

Through working alongside the Muskoka Woods City Camp Staff we came to understand the value of encouragement. Working at a day camp for one full week gave us all a chance to experience the high demand the counsellors are in. They run activities, plan games, create skits and videos and lead kids through a full and exciting day of camp. We learned first hand that at the end of the day you’re exhausted and one of the greatest ways to regain energy is to know that there is a team of people supporting and encouraging you in your role. Our students spent hours writing beautiful encouragement notes to the entire Muskoka Woods City Camp Staff team. It was a joy to watch how much life it gave our students to encourage those they had been serving alongside and amazing to see how those words of affirmation fuelled the counsellors in their work.

 

Through our Leadership Development Sessions we learned how to prioritize our own spiritual growth. Over the course of the week we made our way through a few concepts and ideas that held incredible weight in each and every one of our spiritual lives. We learned about our personalities and the way we’re wired, and we learned about how to approach our spiritual gifts with a heart of thankfulness. We talked  about following God’s guidance and the importance of looking retrospectively at the times when we could see God at work in our lives, and we talked about the immense power of our story and seeing God use our lives as living testimonies. Through all those sessions one fundamental truth was clear – We were created to love and be loved.  We put that into practice as we served the Muskoka Woods Staff, our campers and each other, while we wrestled through what God has called us into- a lifelong journey with him.

 

Through our time together in community we began to understand the importance of investing time into relationships. Our team started out as 21 strangers (a group of students who barely knew one another’s names) to a team at the end of the week who ran to hug one another goodbye, who laughed over shared experiences and who stayed up till the early hours of the morning writing one another notes of encouragement. There was time serving together, time eating together, time leading together, time having fun together – all that invested time allowed us to reap the ultimate profit – friendship. Our team was open, honest, vulnerable and quick to support and encourage when the moment called for it. We came to understand that when you invest in a friendship, when you take time to pour into someone you gain a deeper appreciation for who they are, who they were created to be and who they are in the midst of becoming.

 

Our week was one of laughter, memories and incredible opportunities to experience growth together in community. We are so thankful for the chance to have made new friends, shared our stories and to see how evidently God is at work in the lives of our students at theUNDERGROUND.

 

– Kaitlyn Kirkwood

We’re half way there!!!

We are over half way through our Muskoka Woods City Camp Leadership Trip and have been having a blast!! The 20 students from different sites have been paired with one of four cabin groups and have been facilitating the camp activities for the kids at City Camp. The Muskoka Woods City Camp staff are loving having our students working with them and the City Camp kids are having a great time!

Our students arrived on Sunday and jumped straight into work! We spent the afternoon setting up equipment with the Muskoka Woods staff and many hands made for lighter work for all. Our evening was filled with some great time getting to know each other and setting some personal and community goals together.

We have been spending some really intentional time in the evenings in leadership development with our students. So far we have talked through Being real as we hang out and serve together, our different personalities, how to approach our spiritual gifts, our stories and how they can impact others, and listening to Gods guidance in our lives. Its been a real privilege to see our students engaging in these times and getting a deeper grasp on the ways that God has made of each of us intentionally unique, and uses us all in different ways.

Our group has really come together over such a short period of time and we are excited for the rest of the week. We’ve had some great times of fun relaxing at the park, chilling out in front of a movie, enjoying a pool party together, and can’t wait for Aerosports Trampoline Park this evening! The junior leaders have been doing a phenomenal job leading our small groups and demonstrating vulnerability in their discussions. Its been amazing to see them taking the leader and growing so much this week!

Please continue to pray for the students as they continue to interact with the kids at camp and with each other as we finish off our week together!

City Camp is almost here!!!

We are only a few days away from welcoming students from across our sites to the Muskoka Woods City Camp Leadership Trip! We have 20 students that will be joining us this Sunday to serve in Oakville for the week. This is a great opportunity for them to have fun serving kids in the Oakville community, while learning who God has made them to be and exploring their own life story.

During the day, our students will be assisting the Muskoka Woods staff and campers in a variety of camp activities such as; trampoline, laser tag, inflatable slides, and even bubble soccer! Yes! BUBBLE SOCCER!!! Our evenings will be spent together doing some of our own activities and team building exercises, as well as helping students discover various leadership qualities. We have some great things planned for this group! We have even created a special leadership track for some of our older students. Our grade 10s and 11s will have some in depth leadership development that they will practically apply each day by leading small groups of students in grades 7-9. This allows them not only to discover and learn, but apply and share the tools we are helping them develop.

Our goal is that all of our students will step into leadership roles for the upcoming year in theUNDERGROUND, no matter what site they attend! We would appreciate your prayers as we bring these kids together for an incredible opportunity!

CityCamp Leadership Trip – July 2015

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APPLICATIONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE!!!
This summer we have the exciting opportunity to partner with Muskoka Woods again to host City Camp at our Oakville location. This will be an incredible chance for students to grow in their faith as they learn to serve and lead with other Jr and Sr High students from across all of our Meeting House locations.

We have two main goals for this trip:

Hands-On Serving Opportunities - We have the chance to connect with hundreds of elementary students from the Oakville/Mississauga region and invite them into a relationship with Christ. We will be supporting the Muskoka Woods staff to run a day camp for children who come from a variety of backgrounds, many of whom would have little to no church experience.

Learning to Lead -During this trip we will be facilitating intentional leadership development training through a variety of avenues. They may include: workshops, guest speakers, service projects, team building challenges, and more!

Why Camp in the City?
At the heart of this initiative is a desire to reach into the community with the message and love of Jesus. Muskoka Woods wants to partner with churches as a “living exhibition of life with God” in their neighbourhood.

Who Will Be a Part of the Team?
This trip is a cross-regional experience; which means that we have opened the application process up to all of The Meeting House sites. Students in grade 7 – 12 may apply. This team will be composed of up to 25 students and 6 leaders. If more than 25 students apply, preference will be given to Jr High students as this is their only trip opportunity with The Meeting House.

What Will The Team Do?
During the days, theUNDERGROUND Leadership Team will spend our time working with children from the surrounding cities to facilitate City Camp. We will be serving alongside trained Muskoka Woods staff at the Day Camp, out of the Oakville Site.

The evenings will be spent in various learning opportunities. These projects vary considerably and may include the following: team building, educational materials, serving the marginalized, hands on projects, learning from experienced leaders, etc. We will also participate in musical worship, evening devotional times, and a training from Muskoka Woods staff to increase our overall awareness and leadership skills.

We are offering a leadership development trip for our Jr & Sr High students! This is a cross-regional trip and we’d love to have students from across all of our sites on the team!! The team will be helping with Muskoka Woods “CityCamp” that’s happening at the Oakville location. It’s a daycamp that targets kids who may not have any church background and we’ll be doing some really intentional leadership development with students on the trip. Kids currently in Gr 7 – 12 can apply and we’ll email you all the info as it’s finalized in the next few days!! Let me know if you’d be interested in being part of that trip July 5-10!

Apply today at www.themeetinghouse.com/summerleadershiptrip

theUG Spring Retreat | Anchored in Hope

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Jr & Sr High Spring Retreat!

The retreat was amazing with over 430 students & leaders coming out for a great time of fun, learning, worship, community and being reminded that when we are rooted in Christ, we are anchored in hope! Cluster spirit was strong for our game of Shipwrecked and there was plenty of dancing! but the most amazing thing is to see lives changed from our time away together. A student told one of our youth pastors… “I get it. I actually get it. I don’t have to do anything to be enough. I am more than enough because of Jesus and the expression of God’s love for us. I have been made that way. This has changed my life.”
Thanks for entrusting your kids to us for the weekend! We cant wait till we are all together again for our next retreat Nov 27-29!

Cory- our Sr High youth pastor from Oakville, spent some time over the retreat recording a vlog so you can see the ins and outs of what a retreat really looks like!  Watch the retreat vlog here — https://youtu.be/o2LPT83Vc_U.

Heading Home – Wilmington 2015

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

On our second night here in Wilmington, we had the awesome opportunity to have dinner at the home of UrbanPromise Wilmington’s Executive Director, Mr. Rob. He then led us in a devotional surrounding Ephesians 3:14-21… It’s hard to believe that we’re going home tomorrow, but as we reflect back, there are so many examples of the ways those words have been true for this team throughout the week – and that is a beautiful thing.

God has done and is doing immeasurably more this week than any one of us could have ever imagined, and we know that He will continue to do incredible, amazing, Kingdom-building things long after we leave tomorrow. We have definitely been rooted in Christ’s love this week, and our days have been full in every sense of the word. And thinking on the beginning of the verse where it talks about family, it has been such a blessing to be a part of a community that, as one of our team members so eloquently put it , is not just a community, but a family – because of Jesus.

Last night, we had a blast at UrbanPromise’s 4th-12th Grade African/Latin American Speech Contest. Dozens of 4th-12th grade students who are connected to UrbanPromise delivered an original, self-written speech about an influential and inspiring African or Latin American. Many of us on the compassion team have had the privilege of working one-on-one with many of the 4th and 5th graders on their speeches this week, and were honoured and delighted to be invited up to go up on stage with our students for moral support. We were blown away and inspired by their courage, and very impressed with how much they accomplished – from their memorization to their ability to nail last-minute changes that had to be made to their speeches.

Goodbyes have been and will be very hard over the next few hours. Many of us have really connected with the kids at our after-school programs, whether we just met them this week or are reconnecting after past trips. Many of us who have hung out at our after-school programs before have been blown away by the night-and-day growth that we see in the character and leadership of so many of the kids. Others of us have been blown away by how fast we have created connections with the kids we just met and have so quickly been able to deeply love them with Christ’s love and want God’s absolute best for them.

 

Sledgehammering, Springtime & Speeches – Compassion Trip Update!

Hello from sunny Wilmington! We’re alive, well, and having a fantastic week! We have had vague and slightly shady memories of white stuff falling from the sky as we enjoy the spring weather, love the people around us and love Jesus.

Our days have been [in the words of various members of the team]: full, inspiring, fun, loud, rich, encouraging, joyful, eye-opening, heart-breaking, exciting, groundbreaking [as in one of our work projects literally involved breaking a sidewalk that needs to be replaced at the UrbanPromise school… ;)], adventurous, heart-warming, challenging, straight-up-awesome, and filled to the brim with Jesus.

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We’ve spent our mornings sorting thousands of pounds of food at the Food Bank, doing yard work at the UrbanPromise school, and mulching a local park in Wilmington.

After eating lunch, showering at the local YMCA and taking a midday break at the coffee shop across the street, we split off and head to one of UrbanPromise’s four elementary school after-school programs. The stories we hear from both the staff and kids about the families involved with UrbanPromise’s programs are both heart-breaking and hopeful. They are stories of brokenness and restoration – the type of restoration that only the love and hope of Christ can bring.

You’ve probably heard it before, but really believe this – UrbanPromise is making a radical, eternal, and world-shaking difference in the lives of the children they serve and in the city of Wilmington as a whole.

Please keep us in your prayers as we head into the second half of the week, and join us in praying for the UrbanPromise staff, kids and their entire ministry.

Lots of love & see you Saturday evening,

theUG Compassion Team 2015

 

PS: At the after school camps we’re helping the kids work on their upcoming speeches. We think they’re doing pretty awesome… you?! :)

 

AIDS Care & Wilmington!

So…. theUNDERGROUND had a goal of collecting 1,500 single bars of laundry soap for AIDS Care. Over the past few weeks we saw tons of amazingly creative ways that students and leaders rallied across all of our sites – small group competitions, dying of hair, painting of people, etc! Across all of our sites we ended up collecting 2,965 bars!!! These are some of the ways we see students learning to live simply so they can give generously – all part of what it means to follow Jesus!

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Lots of exciting things are on the horizon! For example, THIS Sunday, March 15 theUNDERGROUND Sr High Compassion Team is leaving for Wilmington, Delaware. The team is made up of 23 students and 8 leaders from across our sites, and we’re heading down to serve alongside the Urban Promise staff – helping at a food bank, painting/spring cleaning, and helping with their kids after school camps!

Please be praying for the team – that this is a faith-shaping experience for each student and leader on the trip and that we’re able to bless the kids and people we’re serving while there!!

Stay tuned for updates on our trip throughout the week!

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Parents Night – THIS Friday!

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A value we continue to work towards in theUNDERGROUND is resourced and spiritually engaged parents. We believe that parents are the primary spiritual influencers in the lives of youth and we want to communicate with, resource and engage parents in the life of the youth ministry at The Meeting House.

One of the ways we do this is to provide opportunities for parents to come together, to learn from experts (who know more than us!), to ask questions and to know that we are passionate about supporting and encouraging them along the way as they parent their kids! We have one of these great opportunities on Friday night!

This special evening is a double-header for parents!  You will be able to hear and interact with two great international communicators.  Duffy Robbins, Professor of Youth Ministry, Eastern University, St. Davids, PA will be talking about “Getting Inside Their Heads – Understanding the Teenage Mind”.  You will also be able to learn from Ryan Richardson, President and CEO, Media Safe Corporation, Windsor, ON who will be speaking on a critical area, “Saving Face(book) – Being Media Safe Parents in the Digital Age”.

Parents Night |The Meeting House | 2700 Bristol Circle, Oakville
Friday February 20| 7:30-9:45 pm.

On-Line Registration – www.todaysteens.ca (Parents Night)
Pre-Register – $10/person and $15/couple
At Door Registration – $15/person and $20/couple

All That Jazz was a Hit!

With high attendance and “standing room only” our students raised over $7,000 towards our youth compassion trip over March Break. It was a fantastic night and the room was alive and full of people from all kinds of sites all supporting our youth!! Even our leaders and students from Parry Sound came down in a snowstorm!

Our Sr High Compassion team served throughout the night, welcoming people as they arrived, hanging out with kids in childcare, working behind the scenes in the cafe, serving tables and helping to run the silent auction component! We continue to be excited about what God has in store as we get closer to leaving, just over a month from now! A huge thanks to everyone who supported!
Please continue to be praying for the team as they prepare, and for the staff and kids we’ll be hanging out with at Urban Promise in Wilmington!

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