It’s not easy to decide which summer events to offer your teens.  It can be cumbersome having to pick and choose which summer events your teen can attend in addition to family time and just getting into the summer routine.  It can be extremely difficult, time consuming, or even annoying to have to take time off of work to drive your kids to events during a workday, or giving up weekends spent with the family to volunteer for a youth event with your church parish.

As a former youth minister, Core Team member, and conference staff member, and now a mom myself, I understand how difficult it can be.  But, I also know… it’s all worth it.

What makes it worth it

Teens encounter Jesus personally, in Word and Sacrament.

At Steubenville youth conferences, there are generally at least two Masses, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered, Adoration and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, praise and worship, workshops, and ministry booths.  Teens encounter God’s grace through all of these avenues in ways they’re often too distracted to while in their daily or weekly routines.

The teens are free to encounter Jesus, without the pressure of schoolwork, athletic commitments, or family pressures.  Teens can be completely present to the message of God’s word without thinking about assignments due the next week, the sports practice they’ll be attending next, or the thought of having a sibling or other family member watching how they respond.

It creates a summer buzz, and keeps teens interested in the Bible studies, daily Masses, youth nights, socials, and more that your parish or other local youth ministries offer to build upon the experience of the weekend conference.

It shows teens that God isn’t meant to be contained within an academic calendar, but rather is meant to be experienced throughout our entire lives.  How do you show newly confirmed that their faith is continued after Confirmation programming?  Continually offer them discipleship, and even leadership opportunities.

It provides incredible relational ministry memories, and can spur deep and lasting discipleship opportunities through the Franciscan LEAD and Service Crew programs.  Summer youth ministry experiences, including the Steubenville South Conference, provide fun, safe, and creative ways for teens to socialize, connect with others, and build their own leadership skills.

It reinforces the Church’s teachings through dynamic speakers.  People of all ages learn and encounter through various temperaments and styles.  The speakers they encounter through a Steubenville conference, vacation bible school, or other summer ministry experience are some of the best vessels of truth for today’s teens.

Myths debunked 
“Franciscan Youth conferences are just for Franciscan graduates and their youth group teens.”  As a church, it takes a Catholic village to raise a Catholic teenager.  Steubenville conferences are just one of many opportunities for your teens to encounter Christ with the larger community.

“Our family already has vacations, sports camps, and more planned for the summer.  I can’t possibly schedule in another event.”  Having a summer already planned out with so many activities can be such a blessing!  You owe it to your teen and your family to schedule in a vacation bible school, family retreat, or even a full Steubenville youth conference weekend into the summer to prioritize making Christ the center of their lives.

“Our group doesn’t have matching t-shirts, so we shouldn’t go.”  Your teen does not have to be a member of the largest church in town, or attend with the largest youth group.  They just need to show up with an open heart – and having you waiting to help them when they get home.

Don’t wait
There is still time to register your teens for the Steubenville South Youth Conference, or any of the amazing ministry opportunities held throughout our diocese this summer.  For more information or to register for the Steubenville South Conference, please contact your church parish or visit www.steubenvillesouth.com.  To register for other events held throughout the diocese this summer, please contact your church parish, or visit www.diocesealex.org.

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