We debuted a new Upward Challenge here in Alaska this summer called “Game Changers: Teaming up with the Holy Spirit” based on the second Dunamis event, “In the Spirit’s Power, Cooperating with the Holy Spirit.”

This week focused on learning about:

  • when and what is the Kingdom of God,
  • what the Holy Spirit does,
  • what spiritual gifts are and what they’re for,
  • how to team up with the Holy Spirit and cooperate with Him, and
  • how to hear and discern when the Spirit is speaking.
Sam Hale teaching with audience participation
Sam Hale teaching with audience participation

Sam Hale and Andy LaBo teamed up to teach and brought a lot of creative, interactive teaching exercises to connect the campers to the material.

Many of us in the Upward Challenge community had felt for some time that this was important teaching for the teens, and we are very grateful to Paul Stokes and others who helped develop the manual and bring it to life.

Small but Mighty


Our group was small this summer, 15 campers and 15 adults, and community came together quickly.

This was helped by our ability to have all the girls in one cabin and the boys in another, as well as great connecting games to begin our week.

Of course, the Holy Spirit probably had a hand in this as well.

Other afternoon activities during the week included

  • hiking in Hatcher Pass on Tuesday;
  • free day at the lake on Wednesday,
  • work day at camp on Thursday–which included cleaning, yardwork, construction, baking, and more–
  • and a Prayer Treasure Hunt in the community on Friday.

Freedom in Worship

Evenings featured LOTS of testimonies and wonderful worship.

After our winter worship retreat, we’d decided to create a special set of worship flags for Upward Challenge, and it was a joy to watch them used throughout the week.

Intimacy through the Spirit

One way that God worked amongst our group during the week was by extending love through hugs. These became Kairos moments where He demonstrated acceptance, forgiveness, affirmation and love in and through us.

This happened several times amongst small groups and the Upward Challenge community as a whole.

One night’s hug was focused on comforting a young camper who was struggling; on another evening, we embraced an entire group who was feeling that they’d failed.

It was wonderful to witness the campers settle in and wait on the Lord to do what He wanted to do in those moments.

Growing Leaders

Upward Challenge Alaska praying for comissioning

As leadership development is one of the key goals of Upward Challenge, we were very encouraged to watch our young leaders grow through the challenges they faced.

Two brand new leaders served as excellent examples to all of us by stepping out in faith and obedience.

One evening, all the student leaders were asked to be part of prayer teams for empowerment.

The two who were new said no, but when asked to take some time and ask God what He wanted them to do, both said they would because they heard His yes.

 Celebrating Community

Upward Challenge Alaska leader photo with the Colemans

Two weeks after Upward Challenge concluded, we came together for our now-annual Upward Challenge Celebration.

We enjoyed a potluck dinner, a slideshow of our week (our small group scavenger hunt the first day of camp made for some excellent photos!), checked in to see how everyone was doing, prayed together, and then shared our highlights.

The aspect of camp that continues to awe folks the most is the koinonia of the community with its love, acceptance, and safety.

This celebration provided a terrific opportunity for parents and friends to see and hear first-hand what camp was like and the impact it had on everyone.

No one left Upward Challenge untouched.

Next Year in 2017!

Our dates have not yet been confirmed for next summer, so stay tuned.

We’d love to have folks from the other Upward Challenge camps come and join us!

Those dates will appear here when they are released.

Alaskan Mountain Lake

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