ECMN offers statewide camp and retreat programs serving all 106 faith communities across Minnesota. In 2019 we welcomed 590 young people into beloved community with one another through 12 collaboratively built experiences. These gatherings change lives by cultivating sacred space, building beloved community, and allowing youth to share transformative adventures—all of which are crafted through the lens of faith.
Join us on Facebook as the ECMN Youth Community, follow us on Instagram as @ecmnyouth, and watch us on Vimeo. Email your Missioner for Children, Youth, and Camp with any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A Story Worth Telling
The growth in ECMN Camps & Retreats over the past 6 years is a story worth telling. Just this past April we had nearly 100 young people attend MN TEC together from 24 different faith communities across ECMN. This is the third statewide Teens Encounter Christ retreat that we have hosted, and 23 of our participants were here for the first time.
The success of this newer program offers a snapshot of the dynamic growth of collaborative children’s and youth ministries over the past 6 years. If you zoom out from the recent MN TEC retreat, 43 of our 106 faith communities who participated in an ECMN camp or retreat in 2019. This is nearly half! In 2013, ECMN only offered a single week of camp, which served about 80 campers. By 2019 we had 590 participants in our 3 week-long camps, 2 half-week camps, 3 community engagement trips, 2 middle school retreats, and 2 high school retreats. All of these opportunities can be found on this website or in our printable 2020 Brochure.
The credit for this growth largely goes to our young people themselves, who have continued to speak up and advocate for their community. For instance, in 2012 a group of middle schoolers asked for their own retreat program so they didn’t have to wait to attend the high school program. Then after a successful 4 years building that Pre-TEC program, the youth spoke up again asking to unify the high school retreat program so that they could all be together a few times each school year.
In response to our young people’s advocacy, ECMN is keeping pace with this growth by expanding staff support, planning training opportunities for adult leaders, and establishing the endowed Bishop Brian N. Prior Youth Scholarship Fund.
Our youth who gather at ECMN Camps & Retreats are truly a unique community. Participating faith communities only send around four kids to each program, so our events don’t revolve around one big youth group who come because they are already friends. Instead, this is an ever-expanding beloved community of young people from all across the state, who together are learning how to welcome, care for, and share their stories with one another, within the larger narrative of our Christian faith and Episcopal traditions.
Missioner for Children, Youth and Camp
Tage Kruger, Grade 12 (St. Mark’s Cathedral, Minneapolis) – Click here to read his homily at ECMN Convention 2019.
Josh Xiong, Grade 12 (Holy Apostles, St. Paul) – Click here to read his homily at ECMN Convention 2018.
Will, Grade 10 (St. Mark’s, Minneapolis) – “My place, where I am my best self, where I know I’m loved unconditionally, is at camp or at these retreats. We are all here, sometimes for just 24 hours, and somehow it really feels like we are one big family. So to sum it up, I want to become more of who I truly am, and this community helps me do that. Then I want to go be that in the real world.”
Jack, Grade 12 (Ascension, Stillwater) – “My youth minister told me that I needed to go through TEC to be confirmed. At that point all I had heard about TEC was, “It is great. You should go.” My youth minister said, “All you need is faith.” And so I went on faith. When I left I knew one thing. I wanted to come back. I wanted to be a part of this family. TEC has honestly changed my life. Through MN TEC I know now that there are people all over this state, and all over the country, who have this huge Agape love for one another that comes from God. One of the most amazing things about MN TEC is that it’s not really run by the adults. We are given supervision, but it’s our thing. The ECMN Youth Commission is going to keep working on it until it’s more and more perfect. This right now is the church today. We are the youth community of ECMN.”
Evie, Grade 7 (Trinity, Excelsior) – “Pre-TEC taught us that we are all made in God’s image. We are all invaluable because God—the maker of the WHOLE WORLD—loves us. How cool is that?! We can realize that we don’t need the perfect hair, face, or clothes because we are all RADIANT in the light of God.”
Finn Hunsicker, Grade 10 (St. John’s, Minneapolis) – “The first time I came to TEC, on the second night, I was sitting alone in a pew listening to music. And I realized, for the very first time in my entire life, that I wasn’t really alone, because God was really with me. I actually felt it. It is so important to create spaces and experiences where teens and everyone can experience this. Because that love, once you know it’s there, can be felt, not just every week, nor just once a day, but always….always. Now, every time I go to any ECMN youth gathering, I feel this amazing sense of overwhelming joy that I can’t describe. It’s entirely different than any other joy I have felt in my life. The first time I felt it, it’s kind of like I got hit by a truck, but instead of pain I felt love and I gained a new family that I knew I could trust. For so many years I hadn’t experienced a community of people my own age who loved me so much. And in finding this community I felt an overwhelming joy. Being here with my fellow members of the youth commission, many who I know from other ECMN youth events, is just like coming home after a long time apart. The happiness we feel, the fun we have, and the way we really experience God together, is like nothing else.”