Leadership with heart, mind, and soul

The Greenest Youth Retreat Ever

Added on by Sam Davidson.

As I've mentioned before, I spend a few weekends a year talking to teenagers about how their faith can change the world. Last month I was in Houston to talk to some students about the kind of people they want to become. This weekend, I'm in Chattanooga discussing how people can use their faith as a catalyst to make the world a better place.

My friend Kurt is the youth pastor at First Baptist Church, Chattanooga. Since his annual youth retreat would coincide with Leap Day, he thought it would be neat and catchy to use a frog as the logo in promoting the event to his teenagers. Then, as he begin to think about possible themes, the environment and why Christians should care about it kept coming to mind.

He had read New Day Revolution, and because we'd worked together in Wyoming at a camp in 2003, he gave me a call, asking me to hit on this very theme as the speaker for the weekend.

And then, when I showed up today, I saw all the careful thought Kurt had put into the weekend. Not only did he want me to talk about saving the world and why it's important. He made sure that his students practiced what I'd be preaching.

As many times as I've spoken in a myriad of settings, this is the first time I've seen a youth retreat go to such great lengths to make a positive impact.

First, there's the reusable water bottle that each kid gets. But instead of simply being a catchy giveaway, this is the kid's cup for the entire weekend. That's right - at meals and snacks this weekend, you won't find any paper, plastic or Styrofoam cups.

Then, there are the real plates that go to each home hosting a group of teenagers this weekend. No paper plates will be used for late night snacks or morning breakfasts. Real plates will be used, and the students will wash them after use.

And, each home that is hosting a group gets a nice gift basket to make it easier and more environmentally friendly to clean up long after the teenagers have left.

And finally, the curriculum allows students to explore why the environment is important and what they can (and should) do about it.

It's great to see such dedication being taken to really hit on a theme - not just so teens remember it come Monday, but so that they can begin to see the implications of the theme and understand what living it looks like each day in their own lives.

I love this kind of outside-the-box thinking for millions of reasons. This is a game-changing kind of retreat, if you ask me.

No plastic cups and bottles of Cokes this weekend. Unbelievable....

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