Registration Open for Texas Youth Academy Program Assistants, Mentors and Students

Date Posted: 2/9/2017

When it comes to deepening discipleship, July is always extra special for leaders and students attending the annual Texas Youth Academy. Anyone in Texas can apply.

Former Texas Youth Academy (TYA) participants offer the best publicity for one of the most powerful discipleship training opportunities hosted by the Texas Annual Conference. One student describes the lasting impact this way. “TYA is something I think about daily, and not lightly at that. I can truly say that TYA changed my life because of the impact it had on my passion for ministry and the Bible. TYA is my family and I wouldn't be where I am today without it.” TYA serves all conferences in the state of Texas.

“Pastors and youth directors should be encouraging their teens to be a part of this important, transformative experience, “says Katie Eichler, one of the directors of the 2017 TYA who has witnessed the impact on her youth group students over the last eight years. “Mission trips and activities are great, but TYA seems to be the experience that sticks with students longer since it gives them a different picture of spiritual formation and hands-on leadership development training.”

The 30-40 students go about their order of the day together, beginning with morning prayer and theological education with a variety of seminar professors addressing basic tenets of Christianity. According to Katie, afternoons are spent learning the WHY of mission service and in art related activities that follow the spiritual theme of the day. “We have four artists in residence, working with the students in various mediums, helping them process the spiritual concepts through art,” she explains.

Talented 10-12th graders: Applications Being Accepted Now!

For two weeks each summer, Texas Youth Academy hosts a select group of young leaders. High school students will attend to pursue an intense journey of theological study and reflection. Students leave after forming lifelong bonds with other teens and young adults seeking discernment for their Christian life and vocation.  In 2017, TYA will be held July 3-15, offering ample time for worship, prayer, hospitality, service, study, Sabbath rest and creative art expression. Notes Eddie Erwin, director of youth/young adult ministries for TAC, “This year we have dropped the price to $500 and are allowing current seniors to apply.”

“Students enjoy experiencing a variety of different worship styles the first week,” notes Katie, “then they take the wheel and lead the worship planning for the services during the second week. Thinking through the planning of the worship experience seems to be the most tangible leadership development insight the students take home with them.”

Staff Invests in Young: Consider Being a Mentor

Katie and other directors will be assisted by an array of program assistants and mentors who will be paid an honorarium for attending training and giving students their full attention from July 2-17.

Qualified applicants must possess a faith in Jesus Christ, a deep understanding of Wesleyan doctrine, and a genuine interest in and agreement with the purpose and mission of the Texas Youth Academy. They also must show a calling to the academic, social, theological and emotional support of youth. A positive attitude, emotional and spiritual maturity, and ability and willingness to work as part of a team are required. According to Eddie, theological training and leadership experience with youth are preferred, and camp counseling or leadership in an academic summer program is helpful, as is work experience within a university or church setting.  Notes Katie, “Mentors basically do everything the students do plus lead a small group, and mentors do not have to be in fulltime ministry to serve in this capacity.”

“We are also seeking mentors who are comfortable with students and can encourage a profound confidence in their capacities for theological leadership by giving them concrete opportunities to practice this leadership,” shares Eddie. “We desire folks who can wrestle with thorny theological problems, giving teenagers confidence in their theological agency while they encounter myriad ways in which people live their lives for God.“ Applicants must be 21 or older with a minimum of one year of college/university education.  

Applications for both students and staff, as well as introductory videos and information, can be found at texasyouthacademy.com