Save the date! We’re kicking off our 2023 program season with our annual Confirmation Retreat, open to youth in grades 6 – 12 and their mentors. This retreat focuses on building strong bonds between youth and their mentors, as well as helping confirmands learn the tools they will need on a lifelong journey of faith. This year’s retreat keynote speaker is Rev. Carrie Winebrenner, Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Learn more today.
New ‘PYT Beyond’ will now be before rather than after the 2025 Triennium, with time to dig deep into the Mathew 25 theme
by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Because of the ongoing pandemic, the 2022 Presbyterian Youth Triennium, which had been scheduled for July 24-27 in Indianapolis, Indiana, has been canceled.
According to PYT director Gina Yeager-Buckley, this decision came out of a deep desire to prioritize the safety and health of all Triennium participants, including those working the event.
“This decision involved a great deal of difficult, thoughtful and prayerful discernment with our multiple planning teams and we are confident it is the right call,” she said. “Dealing with the ramifications of COVID and the necessary safety protocols that we would need to build were overshadowing every element of Triennium. The most important goal of PYT is to provide a place where Presbyterian youth can safely and creatively explore God’s word and Jesus’ path.”
Yeager-Buckley said PYT is in the process of renegotiating contracts with the Indianapolis Convention Center and area hotels.
“We’re excited to share that we’ve just been offered dates in July 2025 in Indianapolis for the next PYT,” she said.
The decision to cancel the 2022 Triennium came after a recent meeting with the COVID Medical Advisory Team, which includes physicians and immunologists. Senior leaders from PYT, the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Office of the General Assembly heard from the medical team that even with vaccine and mask requirements, there would be COVID clusters — not just individual cases.
Because PYT participants travel and attend as delegations, a five- day pre-event quarantine would also have been required, because young people typically travel to PYT with a whole new group of peers.
“You don’t often attend PYT with your youth group, but with a group of strangers,” Yeager-Buckley said. “The burden of adding an additional five days of programming, shelter, meals, etc., on to registrars with already full plates caused us a lot of concern.”
Even with the pre-event, PYT was told to expect clusters of participants with positive test results. Yeager-Buckley said she began to see something taking shape that is not what Triennium should be — or something the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) should encourage.
Leaders also began to understand that if PYT moved forward with the event, organizers would have to create an onsite COVID testing clinic and COVID care facility to care for those who would be in quarantine after testing positive.
This provided clarity that the largest gathering of Presbyterian youth every three years — Triennium attracts up to 5,000 people — would have to be postponed.
“As we spent more and more of our time trying to figure out a COVID mitigation strategy, it became clear that this wasn’t the right time to bring young people together for this wonderful event,” said the Rev. Dr. Ray Jones III, director of Theology, Formation and Evangelism.
The PYT team had already postponed registration for the event from February 1 to March 14 in order to buy some time for PYT registrars. With concerns about COVID, there were fewer adult volunteers to encourage youth and adult youth leaders to attend Triennium. A lower number of participants would also have had financial implications for this year’s event.
Once the renegotiations for Triennium in Indianapolis take place, the PYT team plans to move ahead with PYT Beyond, the new expanded ministry for Presbyterian youth that will offer virtual sessions, cohorts for youth and adults and online courses related to the theme, “When Did We See You?”
Regional, flexible PYT packages with videos of speakers, musicians and recreation leaders are also in the planning stages, all designed to provide a pathway to the 2025 event.
“The theme from Matthew 25 will remain the same,” Yeager-Buckley said. “This gives us a chance to broaden the impact and dig deeper with young people on what it means to see like Jesus — to see what God sees — and then be active in the world.”
Yeager-Buckley feels that it is the mysterious touch of the divine to have extra time to work on the “When Did We See You?” theme with young people before the next Triennium. She recognizes that the work of dismantling structural racism, eradicating systemic poverty and building congregational vitality — changing long term habits — can’t be done at a conference alone.
“We’ve always known that this theme was calling us to reach further, dig deeper, risk uncertainty together,” Yeager-Buckley said.
For Jones, regional cohorts of youth engaging in Bible studies and working with coaches on “When Did We See You?” — possibly in partnership with camps and conference centers — will give youth a chance to go deeper into the Matthew 25 vision with their faith communities.
The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, knows how much prayerful discernment went into the decision to cancel this year’s Presbyterian Youth Triennium.
“The safety of the young attendees and our volunteers is always our top priority,” she said. “I’m confident the new ‘Triennium Beyond’ program will serve as a special pathway between now and the next Triennium in 2025.”
On Friday, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board approved allocating $246,000 from unrestricted funding reserves to a board designated fund to support COVID-related expenses related to the 2022 Presbyterian Youth Triennium. The funds will be used for COVID-related expenses and alternative PYT programming over the next several years.
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Pyoca staff are working hard to ensure a safe return to summer camp programs this year. Please check out the Pyoca website for regular updates.
When does summer camp registration open?
- Camp registration opens Monday, February 8th.
- Click here to set up or update your account in the registration portal.
My church registers our children and youth for camp, rather than parents or guardians registering them, is there anything I need to know?
- With reduced cabin capacities, meaning fewer campers on-site each week, Pyoca is introducing waitlists this year.
- If you are hoping to have your children/youth registered all together during the same week, you are encouraged to register them early.
What information will I find on the website?
- Churches and families will find information on all summer camp dates, COVID-19 Health and Safety protocols, and registration.
- For an introduction to a safe return to in-person summer camp programming, check out the latest camp update, available on Pyoca’s YouTube Channel.
We hope that this information helps you determine if in-person programming is right for your church youth and/or family this summer.
Pyoca is on a path to re-opening our doors, beginning in mid-July.
Our soft opening will start with overnight respite for Presbytery of Ohio Valley and Whitewater Valley Presbytery ministers and chaplains. Each pastor (immediate family is welcome to join) will be housed in their own cabin, either the Poplar Apartment or Oak/Cedar cabins. Guests will be responsible for their own meals. Dates and cabins will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Stays are of no cost to pastors, made possible with the generous support of both presbyteries.
Pyoca is following enhanced cleaning procedures set fourth by the CDC, and additionally, air purifiers have been installed in all cabins.
Call Pyoca at (812) 358-3413 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and to reserve your visit today.
A Message from Mike & Molly:
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support of camp in this season. It has been incredibly strange for us to be at camp without hearing the melodious sounds of campers laughing, singing, and lifting up their prayers to God.
That said, working on Camp to You has been such a joy. We have loved seeing pictures of campers and their families opening their boxes, making their tie-dye shirts, and getting a bit of camp at home.
In total, we were able to send out nearly 300 boxes to campers and alumni with this program. We are incredibly grateful to our four summer staff Eli, Ethan, Kari, and Abigail who were able to help us make this program a reality.
We are still at work with our board discerning how to open safely in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we are committed to staying connected virtually through all of our social media platforms.
If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel,
Pyoca Camp and Retreat Center, where you can watch devotionals that go along with this summer’s camp theme, craft and outdoor cooking tutorials, silly songs, and more.
This Summer of Sanctuary is unlike any other we have had in 68 years, and it is one we are likely never to forget. You are missed. You are loved. We can’t wait to see you.
The peace of Christ be with you,
Mike Davis, Senior Director
Rev. Molly DeWitt, Program Director
To our presbytery and congregational partners,
We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from you and our greater camp community upon our announcement to cancel 2020 summer camp programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this decision deeply saddens us, we know that it is the best one we could make for our community as a whole.
This is also a historic decision, as this is the first time in 68 years that we will not have on-site camp programming. We are looking to move forward with new ways to engage safely with our campers and greater community in the weeks to come.
As we move forward we want to keep you all updated, as so many of you support your camper families through generous mission dollars. Information regarding registrations from this summer and our new outreach program Camp to You can be found below.
No Risk Registration: Updated Information for Churches
We remain committed to our No Risk Registration policy. As previously stated, families and churches have the following options regarding their camp registration fees:
- Donate all or a portion of your camper fees to the ministry of Pyoca,
- Hold all or a portion of your camper fees toward a future Pyoca program,
- Or, receive a full or partial refund of paid camper fees.
Churches that have paid all or a portion of 2020 camper fees will receive a follow-up email to determine how you would like to move forward. For families who have registered without paying a deposit or fees, no further action is required at this time.
To help Pyoca through this difficult time, we are asking our church partners to prayerfully consider covering the cost of your anticipated camper fees for this summer. We know this is also a trying time for congregations and appreciate your consideration. Your continued support this summer will allow us to provide transformative camp experiences for years to come.
Have additional questions? Feel free to call our office at (812) 358-3413 or email email@example.com.
Camp to You
Camp may not look the same this summer, but a little bit of camp is coming to our campers! We will be connecting with all of our campers this summer through our free Camp to You program.
Campers will receive a box full of camp activities focusing on this summer’s theme, Bible study resources, and a camp t-shirt.
All campers registered for the 2019 camp season and eligible for the 2020 season, as well as new campers registered in 2020, will be receiving a free box.
If covering the cost of camper registration fees is not feasible, we are asking churches to consider covering the cost of providing Camp to You for their children and youth. This program will also be available for purchase if additional youth from your congregation are interested in participating in the program. Please let us know if you would like to place an order and we can have them delivered to your church.
Camp to You will also be available in an alumni version, full of camp swag! Each purchase of an Alumni Camp to You box will cover the cost of one camper box. These will be available for purchase June 1st and shipped out in early July.
More information will be available concerning Camp to You pricing and availability later this month.
Thank you for your unending support of this ministry. We are incredibly grateful to have such wonderful congregational partners.
May Christ’s peace be with each and every one of you.
Mike Davis, Senior Director
Rev. Molly DeWitt, Program Director
Pyoca Advisory Council
A message from Pyoca Camp & Retreat Center:
It is critical to our mission as an organization that welcomes and serves all to be able to make camp a possibility for as many pwoplw as we can Although we are living in a world that is changing day to day, we promise our camp families this moving forward:
- No Deposit is required to register your child(ren) for camp for the remainder of the 2020 season.
- Scholarships, as always, remain available to all families who request them.
- No child is turned away due to financial need.
In the event any camp programs is canceled or rescheduled due to COVID-19, families have the option to:
- Donate any/all of their fees to Pyoca.
- Apply any/all deposits or fees to a future Pyoca program, or,
- Receive a refund of any/all deposits or fees paid.
We thanks you for your support of this life changing ministry.
For any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our office at (812) 358-3413.
For more information about Summer Camp, or other Pyoca Programs, please visit the Pyoca Camp & Retreat Center website at: http://pyoca.org/
Camper registration is officially open and families may notice a few changes, as our registration system has gotten a bit of a facelift. We hope you find registration to be easier, more informative, and more efficient. For information regarding what you will need to register, head on over to our website.
Be sure to check out our new programs! Both You & Me Camp and C.I.T. Camp (Counselor in Training) were introduced in 2019 with great success, and we want to make sure families get to know these fantastic programs in 2020. We also have a brand new environmental program for Discover age campers!
Confirmation Retreat – March 2020
All 2020 PC(USA) confirmands and their mentors are welcome to join us as we connect with confirmands across IN, KY, and OH. Learn about what binds us together, not only as Presbyterians, but as a universal church. Come ready to make new friends and start your statement of faith!
Each year, our goal is to connect youth to a wider Christian community beyond their local congregation.
We believe it is especially important for youth to build a supportive faith network of peers with the support of their pastors and mentors. This retreat will place youth into house churches that will build their own churches through team building, low ropes, high ropes (weather permitting), and developing a church statement of faith outlining their church’s understanding of Christian discipleship. We will also explore PC(USA)’s understanding of discipleship through the Matthew 25 initiative.
We highly encourage confirmation mentors to join their youth. Mentorship in the church is a key factor in continued youth engagement and faith formation. The cost per person is $110 for the weekend. This includes all meals, lodging, adventure activities, and programming. Registration forms available here.