Young people, do you realize how much work was put into the convention this year? I had the wonderful privilege of being able to participate in the convention as a chaperone. I was able to see the everyday activities of the conventioneers and see a small part of the behind the scenes work that had to happen in order to make everything run smoothly. So many people from Hope PR church in Redlands poured countless hours into the planning and running of the convention. “Years of work” and “several meetings per week” are a couple of the phrases I heard thrown around that hardly begin to capture how much time was sacrificed. I was privileged to meet many of the people who poured their hearts into this event.
On top of all the busyness of hosting the convention, many families in the church hosted conventioneers, chaperones (myself included), and visiting families for the weekends before and after the convention. A Seventh Day Adventist church was rented the Sunday before convention in order to accommodate the large number of visitors. The members of the church generously opened up their homes and their church to the many visitors. What a wonderful testimony of their love for the communion of the saints. “Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight” (Ps. 16:2–3).
The transportation committee was busy making sure all conventioneers and chaperones arriving at the airport Monday were picked up at the appropriate time. To top that off, conventioneers were given food and drinks before they even got on the bus to head to camp. The same was true on Saturday when most headed home. How’s that for service?
The convention was held in Idyllwild Pines Camp in Idyllwild, CA. The location of the camp was beautiful, set up in the mountains. The theme of the convention was “Living in the Last Days,” taken from 1 Thessalonians 5:1–8. Revs. Eriks, Decker, and Huizinga each gave stirring speeches that struck at the hearts of all present. They graciously obliged to submit written forms of their speeches for publication in this issue. I will let the speeches speak for themselves, but I will say this: the messages brought were spoken in true conviction of the gospel and a love for the young people. I could not help but notice the attentiveness of young people and all present to the words of the Spirit spoken through these three men. The messages were spoken to young people, but are applicable to all, regardless of age. Read them and be edified. You can also watch them on YouTube. After each speech discussions were held in small groups throughout the camp following the themes of the speeches.
Team games were held on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, with the championship games on Friday. A few injuries had accumulated by the end of the week, but that is to be expected with 26 teams of young people in heated competition. My personal favorite game to watch was the “Soccer Ball Charge” in which opposing teams lined up on opposite sides of a small field that had a large soccer ball in the middle. By large soccer ball I mean a six foot diameter soccer ball! Three or four young people at a time were called out from each team and had to advance the giant soccer ball past the opposing team’s line using mighty shoves and stout kicks. One thing though, they weren’t allowed to stand on two legs. All of this had to be done while “crab walking” (back facing the ground, scrambling around on arms and legs). Two other favorites of many were “Slip’n’Slide Kickball” and “Broomball”, which were the games played for the semifinals and championship.
Beach day. On Thursday morning charter buses took the over four hundred conventioneers and chaperones to Huntington Beach. Many people from the host church came to help out and enjoy the afternoon. Several of these people had to get to the beach at sunrise in order to stake out an area. Several “easy up” shelters were set up throughout the area. There was a water/Gatorade tent, a medical tent, a snack tent, a fresh fruit tent (50 watermelons were brought in for this), and others. Does it get any better than that for a day at the beach? After an afternoon packed with catching waves, swallowing saltwater, sand sculpting, walks to the pier, and volleyball games, all were ready to devour the two hundred pizzas that were delivered beachside around 5 p.m. Devotions were conducted in groups and the pizzas were consumed. The buses arrived one by one and shipped everyone back up the mountain to the camp. Once again all the committees involved hit every detail spot on. Even the bus drivers were commenting on the great amount of organization during the whole process.
Friday was banquet day. The banquet committee and many other helpers were busy for most of the day decorating the dining hall for dinner and the patio where the punch bowl and photo booths were located. The theme was “An Elegant Evening at the Beach”. Dinner was delicious. Dessert was cupcakes with homemade candies on top that looked exactly like sand dollars! After-banquet activities consisted of games up on stage, awards, and lots of candy. Then it was time to say goodbye as a group. We sang “God be with you till we meet again,” and Rev. Huizinga led the group in devotions. After being dismissed the young people were free to spend the night fellowshipping and playing games in designated areas until 2 a.m. when the first buses started bringing young people and chaperones to the airport. This continued through the morning until 8:30 a.m. when the last bus left camp.
The organization and logistics behind this convention week were second to none. I wish you could see the chaperone book I was given, detailing all of the week’s events. I kept thinking to myself throughout the week, “They thought of everything!”
God has blessed our churches with godly young people who love the truth, and for this we have much to be thankful. The 2014 young people’s convention was a testimony of God’s covenant preserved in generations.
God has blessed the people in Hope PR church in Redlands, CA with many gifts in various areas of life that were used to produce the great success that was this year’s convention.