Highlights from Texas Youth Academy 2016
This highly experiential leadership conference provides the backdrop for a select group of high school students to discern and discover spiritual truths every summer.
After experiencing Texas Youth Academy (TYA) for the first-time as the resident assistant, Sydney Scotton wishes she had known about the opportunity as a teen. “This is a really neat thing we are a part of here at TYA,” she says, “and I wish I had been a part of it way back when.” Sydney was blessed by observing and assisting in this two-week summer experience for selected high school students, seeing them share life together in intentional Christian community on the campus of Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX.
“TYA is a wonderful place youth can discuss topics and words they hear in church, but at a deeper level and with their peers,” she shares. “For instance, one day we might discuss the resurrection – what that means as Christians, as Methodists, and in living out our faith. The students can ask questions in a very healthy environment such as why others don’t accept this concept.” Sydney’s ‘wow moments’ as the resident assistant included seeing the participants’ eyes open up to something they had not thought of before. “I loved getting to debrief with them each day and see the incredible bonds they formed by sharing, leading and planning worship together.”
Days at TYA include time for worship, study, scripture, small groups, service projects, art and communion. Bishop Janice Huie and faculty members from various seminaries challenged the students on their journey of Christian living, and special guest Ken Medema, a well-known musician who has mastered the piano and songwriting in spite of the challenges blindness.
Besides making a dozen or more new friends, attendee Jessica Hulen was personally touched by Ken Medema’s workshop. “He wrote a song for me after I told him my life story, and the song reminded me of my place in God’s plan for me in this world,” she shares. “For me, this was incredibly inspirational.”
Mason Smith is happy he attended TYA as well. “Just experiencing church under the bridge was really powerful,” shares Mason, “and that in collaboration with all the mission work we've done made TYA a very transformative experience. Experiencing this time with other youth and talking extensively about social justice truly changed my outlook on the world.
Adds Mason, “I would encourage other students – whether they are going into ministry or not – to attend this event. It’s important to know more about our own faith, hear incredible speakers and participate in unique missional experiences.”