By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
Cardboard boat regattas, wacky wigs, a zorb coaster, which World of Weird Sports defines as “the sport of rolling down a hill at speed inside a giant inflatable ball,” Damascus Road, the seven-story waterslide, and Peter, “the reCHARGE” reporter, plus intense worship, incredibly gifted youth speakers and extreme Bible devotions on a mountainside in Western Maryland equals Amped, the new student ministry of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D).
Nestled in the mountains, Skycroft Conference Center is the perfect locale for student camps, retreats and mission experiences.
Skycroft’s executive director, Doug DuBois, was already hosting summer and winter camps and mission experiences for teenagers throughout the year so it made sense for him to become BCM/D’s missionary for student evangelism.
In fact, just this summer, Amped held three reCHARGE summer camps with 697 students from 39 churches attending. In the winter, Amped will host student winter breakout weekends in coordination with local Baptist associations, and will handle the logistics and coordination of an annual convention-wide student mission trips to Guatemala.
The goal is to take missions offerings throughout the camps and impact weekends to help raise money for this mission trips, DuBois said, explaining that the offerings will be used to help build churches and otherwise minister in the Central American locale.
In addition, Amped staff (DuBois, Grace Schofield, and Peter Odulana with the addition of Lauren Rodriguez, communications manager at the BCM/D who will now serve as associate director at Skycroft) will organize the annual Youth Evangelism conferences.
The next YEC event, “Uncharted: Crazy Love,” will be held Nov. 5-6 at Ogletown Church in Wilmington, Del.
Rodriguez is super excited about working with the Skycroft staff, she said, “because they are innovators. They don’t want to maintain the status quo. They want to keep being innovative to reach as many people as they can for Christ.”
Some of these innovations include the building of a super-sized Hollywood Squares set for a game show review of the day’s lessons; or the hosting a “reCHARGE’s Got Talent” talent show, with no judges, to showcase student talent.
Noting that the staff is “a big family who puts its all into the ministry,” Rodriguez also shared how Skycroft emphasizes making camps personal for the students.
Most camper-counselor ratios are one to 30 students, she explained, but at reCHARGE, the ratio is two to 25 teens.
“I knew every student’s name—and their story,” Rodriguez said, explaining that she cherished the time to sit with students, many of whom are now her Facebook friends, and hear what was going on in their hearts.
For DuBois, the ministry goes beyond just the students. He wants to minister also to the student ministers.
Presently, he is working with High Tide Church on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to develop a “Shepherds Rest”-type home for youth leaders to use for free. The house, to be available in the off-season, will give youth ministers a place for retreat and rest.
DuBois and the Skycroft staff also are developing a “student-intern family” to send out interns to churches with little or no student programming to help develop student ministries and/or special events.
In addition, the Amped student ministry will feature an ongoing unique ministry presence at a missions house located in a low-income housing area in south Frederick, Md. DuBois encourages student ministers to sign their youth groups up one weekend a year to serve in the community—prayerwalking, hosting Bible studies, tutoring students or doing light construction projects.
“The goal is to have 40 weekends filled with student ministry groups who are maintaining a Christian presence in this hurting community,” DuBois shared.
Though no overnight stays are allowed at the house, student groups who minister there can receive a discounted rate at Skycroft, he said.
During this summer’s reCHARGE camps, students replaced some of their recreational time to go and make a difference in the community.
Neighbors, who took notice of the ministry taking place, asked for Skycroft to come help them, too.
DuBois also is working with associational directors of missions to provide incentives for assisting in the promotion of Amped events.
“The goal is to get churches to call directors of missions for the things to do,” shared DuBois.
To encourage the partnership, DuBois envisions giving associations a portion of the event fees for every child who comes to the event.
“For instance, if we give $5 for each child who shows up, and 1,000 people come, that would be $5,000 that we give to the association for their ministry efforts,” he said.
With all these possibilities in front of them, the entire Amped student ministry team is charged up.