I got the idea for this post from Tim Schmoyer's "63 Youth Ministry Issues I Hope You Cover". This weekend, we are doing an event that is probably the most unique event that I've done since I've been in youth ministry over ten years.
We have an annual campout retreat that we do every fall that has evolved into a family event. We encourage our youth to bring their parents. This is a great opportunity for us to have a youth event without cutting into the much-needed family time that many families desperately need. It also gives families an opportunity to study the Bible together as a family. Now, that's not where this event is unique.
This year, we will be doing something a bit different at our family campout. You see, in our area, there was famous Comanche Indian raid that occurred in 1836 during the Texas Revolution (Texas was fighting for its independence from Mexico). The raid occurred just about 2 miles from the state park where we will be camping. There is also a cemetery that is walking distance from our campground where some of the people who were involved in that incident are buried. In the incident, a 9-year old girl named Cynthia Ann Parker was captured and eventually married a Comanche chief. Her son Quanah Parker was the last great Comanche chief and was influential in teaching the Comanche to adopt the white way of life and also became a wealthy statesman, friend of several US Presidents, and even a minister of the gospel (of sorts-see link above).
So, Friday night, of the campout, we are going to go on a hike through the woods (by lantern) and arrive at the cemetery. One of our parents will be in period costume dressed as James Parker whose neice was captured in the Indian raid and who organized many searches for a number of years until she was recovered more than 20 years later. This "ghost story" will introduce the kids to a piece of our local history. Then we will examine the story from different angles and look at the biblical themes in it. The biblical aspects of the story and the biblical stories that parallel this one will be discussion fodder for our Bible studies.
I know most of us would rather teach the Bible than anything, which is good. But I think we often sell our students short by not teaching them the history of their communities. While the Bible has a lot of great role models and examples of character, often times there are people in their communities whom God has used in similar ways.
So what are the youth events you've done that you could call unique?
Do you think an event of this nature is selling the kids short on good biblical teaching?