Confirmed in Hope3 min read

It’s weird, it’s scary, and everything is uncertain. Oh, the joys of Jr. High. In addition to being a time of tremendous change and anxiety, these early teen years are a critical time in one’s faith development.

Research backs this up. Barna Research Group found in one study that “a majority of Americans make a lasting determination about the personal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection by age 12.” One of their researchers commented, “most people’s minds are made up and they believe they know what they need to know spiritually by age 13.” (You can read the full study here).

This is why Camp Arcadia has made the intentional decision to partner with the Michigan District to support its congregations confirmation programs by offering quality Lutheran, Christ-centered confirmation retreats.

Camp Arcadia is located on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. Upon arrival Friday evening, students are shown to their rooms and then are immediately drawn into activities. Staff members set the stage of excitement for the weekend. Opening vespers kicks off the weekend as the pastor for the retreat introduces the topic that is specifically designed to support the home confirmation program. Throughout the day on Saturday these talented pastors have three teaching opportunities that dive deeper into the truth of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. In addition to these teaching times, there is time to enjoy some games, sing, get to know some other campers better and eat some of Camp Arcadia’s renowned food. The weekend concludes Sunday afternoon, after a worship service that focuses on who the students are as they remember their baptismal promises.

One of the most powerful aspects of the weekend is the relational growth that occurs between students and leaders. The book Sticky Faith by Kara Powell, based on in-depth research on faith formation, highlights the importance of relational growth that happens at retreats: “A student who attends a weekend retreat experiences the relational equivalent of attending Sunday school for six months. In more than twenty-five years of student ministry, I’ve found nothing that bonds adults and kids more than time away.” This retreat helps lay the foundation for caring adults who will continue in a relationship with these young people with the Word of God on their lips.

These adults help confirm the hope that is the goal of confirmation ministry. Here is how Scott Giger, pastor at Carmel (Indiana) Lutheran Church puts it: “Spending a long weekend at Camp Arcadia for the Confirmation Retreat gives me a chance to get to know my students on a deeper level and have a more intensive time of catechesis, as our regular class time is only about 45 minutes per day in our Lutheran school. It is such a blessing to see God reach the kids with the same Word, just in a different setting.”

During Camp Arcadia’s Confirmation Retreat, the adult leader, pastor, and DCE does not to have to focus on any organizational aspect of the weekend. They can focus on simply building a relationship with the young people entrusted to them as all are renewed in “spirit, mind, and body — amid the beauty of God’s creation and in fellowship with other Christians,” as guided by camp’s mission statement.

Please visit Camp Arcadia’s website or contact Program Director Jason Bauer at 231-889-4361or or for more information and to add your group to the waiting list for 2015.

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About the Author

Jason Bauer serves as an SMP Pastor at Redeemer, Interlochen. He also serves on the Michigan District Junior High Committee as the Mass Gathering and Bible Study Coordinator.

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