Fort Lewis College has been home to 1,200 new faces this week and will be home to many more in the two weeks ahead.
The “Move” event – put on by Christ in Youth, a nonprofit that collaborates with churches and college campuses across the country – is a weeklong camp designed exclusively for high school students.
With more than 100 people on staff, in addition to the students, the event is large, and FLC is the only Rocky Mountain location.
Move focuses on challenging the students to become closer to God, building social skills and bringing awareness to the less fortunate around the world. This year, students are focused on raising and donating money to parts of India with starving children. Attendees are given the opportunity to give an offering for this cause at the services they attend each night in Whalen Gymnasium.
This week, students came from the Phoenix area through the Christ Church of the Valley. The church has more than 25,000 attendees and has campuses in Peoria, Scottsdale and Surprise, Ariz.
Many students at the event have attended before and plan to continue attending throughout their high school years.
Chris Persons, 15, said he comes to get closer to God, but also to hang out with friends, meet new people, build stronger relationships with his friends and enjoy the climate of Colorado.
Each student was given the opportunity to go rafting, which Persons took part in. Persons said that other than worshiping, it was the best part of his week.
Students are split boy-girl into small groups of about 15 to 30 based on age and high school location.
“Going to services and worshiping is the best part of the week,” said Geena Stacy, 14, who is attending for the first time.
Bri Hancock, 24, is experiencing her first year as a youth coach for the event and plans to return in coming years. All of the staff members are volunteers, which makes this event possible, she said.
Hancock said she is witnessing students grow both spiritually and socially – a goal of the program.
“Even though they are all at different points in their life, they can grow and be challenged this week,” she said. “These kids have so much love for God; it’s amazing to see how open they are about their faith at their age.”
Having students talk about “real things,” as Hancock said, is a goal, as well.
These days, teens are always on cellphones or some sort of technology, she said, and aren’t required to have real conversations with those around them. They can simply send a message to someone instead of having a face-to-face interaction.
This week, they do, and the daily devotions focus on real-world problems that some students may never had to focus on, such as famine and poverty. The goal is to teach them selflessness and to be appreciative for what they do have, she said.
Students are required to skip one meal at some point during the week, and the money saved on these skipped meals will be used for Christ in Youth International, which focuses on bringing the program to as many countries as possible.
Christ in Youth works with more than 25,000 high school students through the Move event, and has 28 events in 15 different states.
Emily Griffin, a summer intern at The Durango Herald, is a Fort Lewis College student. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.