Headquartered in Black Mountain, N.C., PRMI offers youth and young adults opportunities to grow their leadership skills and spirituality through Upward Challenge and With the Wind. Those two camps/programs are offered during the summer and have seen quite an increase in participation.
“They have exploded,” said the Rev. Cindy Strickler, director for the Dunamis Fellowship and dean of faculty for the Dunamis Institute, a ministry of PRMI. “We’ve seen such an incredible amount of interest. We are experiencing the Lord’s blessing in bringing young people to these programs.”
The camps/programs are not specifically for people of a Presbyterian background but are open to anyone wanting to take part in them.
“We view things through a Reformed lens, but we have multiple denominations represented,” said Josh Modrzynski, dean of students for the Dunamis Institute and one of the program leaders.
Upward Challenge is geared toward teens and serves the dual role of introducing participants to Christ while helping them develop a component of spiritual leadership. Modrzynski said the weeklong primitive camping experience offered during Upward Challenge draws participants together as their qualities of Christ-centered leadership emerge.
“The emphasis is on worship and prayer as (campers) go out into the woods for an outdoor experience,” he said. “Genuine bonds of friendship are developed as participants get pretty close, establishing social networks of prayer as they develop and become leaders of small groups who want to come back and help others.”
Upward Challenge has been offered for about 10 years on 24 acres known as the Community of the Cross in the western North Carolina town just east of Asheville. Started as one camp in North Carolina, the number of participants has grown to 70 each summer when it is offered.
The concept has been such a hit that additional camps have been offered the last four years in Michigan, Alaska and the United Kingdom, all focusing on developing Christian leadership. All the camps are experiencing growth.
“That’s been encouraging,” Modrzynski said. “People are carrying it. We put it together, and hope and pray God brings the right people to the camp. We rely on those who attend to share the word about it to others, and they show up. We provide teaching, worship and other activities, then God takes over.”
Modrzynski said leadership traits found in participants have blossomed as they discover they can claim a greater role in the work of God’s kingdom.
“We see hungry people who want to commit themselves to God, and that’s exciting,” he said. “They realize they can share God’s Word through the message of Jesus Christ, and that clicks with them. It really resonates with the young people coming through, and they want to impact the world. They are opening up to Jesus Christ as Lord and how God impacts the world through His Holy Spirit.”
With the Wind is a relatively new program offered by PRMI. Started in the summer of 2012, the initiative for those young adults of college age into their late 20s, had just 14 participants. But that number nearly tripled this summer, growing to 40 in just its second year of existence.
“It’s been incredible to see how God has worked in such a short time,” Strickler said, adding that four interns have come out of the program to work six weeks in Black Mountain to provide teaching and worship leadership.
The focus of With the Wind, Strickler said, is on listening to the Lord and growing in one’s prayer life. Modrzynski called it a “focus on becoming a Christian.”
“It’s teaching cooperation with the Holy Spirit in our day-to-day lives and how prayer can shape the world,” he explained. “It’s a more relaxed environment that deals with different topics and develops a strong bond of community. People leave transformed.”
Strickler said it is rewarding to see such a transformation in the teens who attend Upward Challenge and the young adults who are part of With the Wind over the course of their stay.
“Some come with no desire to be here, but they don’t want to leave when it’s over,” Strickler said. “The Lord gets hold of them, and they leave on fire for Jesus. We see how God has grown them and fitted them for service in His kingdom. They grow as disciples, then go out and impact the world for Jesus in a way that will make a difference.”
Upward Challenge and With the Wind are offered once a year during the summer at each location. For more information about Upward Challenge, visit www.upwardchallenge.org, and learn more about With the Wind at www.prmi.org. For details about either camp/program, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.