For the past few years, UCG has sponsored Peace Village, a day camp for K-6th grade students. In this camp, kids develop skills in building peace with themselves, peace with others, peace with nature, and peace in the world.
Children's Church and Kid's Club
During worship (and up until 12:15), nursery care is available for infants & toddlers. After the Children's Conversation in morning worship, lower elementary students are invited to attend a Children's Church program which lasts until about 11:00.
High School Youth
Our high schoolers meet periodically throughout the year for a variety of activities including pool parties, cookouts, special service projects, and youth camp. A well-loved tradition for UCG high schoolers is to participate in the week-long, Baptist Youth Camp at Laurel Hills Moravian Camp in the hills of rural North Carolina in late June or early July each year. Many of our high schoolers also participate in the regular two-week long mission brigade to Rancho Ebenezer, a teaching "eco-farm" in rural Nicaragua.
Youth Group All 6th-12th graders are welcome!
will meet occasionally this year! Look for details posted in our newsletter: "Whats Up at UCG"
Each summer our rising 7th-12th graders have the opportunity to participate in Beloved Youth Camp, an enriching week spent with friends from around the country. Our youth leader joins with leaders from other progressive churches to craft this week of fun and spiritual enrichment in the rolling hills of western North Carolina.
Here is the report from Julie Reiswig on this year's camp experience
I am again filled with gratitude for another youth camp gone by! It has been three long COVID years since we last traveled to Laurel Springs, North Carolina, to attend camp in person with friends from 10 other congregations. Our theme was centered around "Reunion", nodding to an old camp song about three chartreuse buzzards who have "RE-turned!!" And for many of us it was a joyous reunion! Nearly half of our campers and adults this year were new to the experience, including our pastor Alissia Thompson. The week was a mix of some tried and true traditions (campfire with smores on the mountain top) and some new activities (a "gaga ball" pit has been added to the facilities). Those of us who have attended and loved BYC for over a decade were excited to see so many new faces join us in this week of breaking down old barriers.
Alissia has spoken in her sermon about the "otherness" she felt on day one, but how quickly it melted away once she soaked herself in the kids' positive energy. This year we brought back Dylan Andrews for his last year of camp as a graduate, Jordyn York (9th grade), Amelie Shuler and Henry Dyer (8th graders). We met once each day in our own church circle, checking in and challenging each other to create a random act of kindness for someone else at camp.
Each of our youth found a niche for themselves at BYC. Henry caught large mouth bass every afternoon, with Alissia eagerly by his side. Dylan was excited to reunite with his friends from all over the country to play basketball again and defend his previous championship in the 3 on 3 tournament. Amelie joined the camp newspaper staff, writing daily poems and stories that appeared on our dinner tables each night. Jordyn showed her tactical skills in the Gaga ball court, amazing everyone with her repeated wins! And Alissia won the All-camp Rock-paper-scissors tournament - who knew she possessed such prowess? (Ask her about the rubber duck on the pulpit.)
It's hard to explain the magic of camp. It comes from people letting down their guard, trying something new, learning to see strangers with curiosity. All is built and arranged by a team of about a dozen people who are totally devoted to the spiritual growth and emotional safety of our teenagers. Other adults who come for the ride are swept into the process with amazement. No doubt the success of camp is partly a measure of our focus on youth first. But they give back in spades as much as is given to them, and isn't that how community is built?
BYC provides a space for everybody, no matter what makes their day. Nothing is required of them but to show up and be present, and this seems to be enough when they're surrounded by love and acceptance. I will continue to press on with this vital youth ministry as long as there are teenagers who want to tag along... and I can make it up that infernal hill.
UCC Camps and Activities
Throughout the year, middle and high school students are able to participate in regional retreats organized by the Central Southeast Ohio Association of the United Church of Christ.