Are you up for a challenge?
Upward Challenge is a Christian youth camp in the UK and the USA that gives you the chance to:-
- Become part of a great community of Christ-followers.
- Learn exciting stuff about how God works in people’s lives today.
- Encounter God’s power and presence through the Holy Spirit.
- Have a load of fun in games, serving and worship.
- Get some quiet space and time alone for prayer and reflection.
Upward Challenge is truly ‘Trinitarian’. That might sound a bit heavy, but really what it means is that we help people get to know God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sometimes in church life it’s the Holy Spirit who gets left out of the picture, but the Bible says this:
“Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” (Ephesians 2:18)
The Holy Spirit is a vital part of getting to know God! At Upward Challenge we aim to turn this into experienced reality, help young people to see with spiritual eyes and live with spiritual power.
Are you 14-20 (ish) ?
Upward Challenge is designed to help you grow in your discipleship – and that’s something we all need to keep doing. In fact, this year’s Student Leaders range from 17 to 22 years old. Why not join us and invest in growing your faith?
A major component of Upward Challenge is developing young leaders. We invest significant time and energy into helping them to learn how to be spiritual leaders, including mentoring and also involving them in some of the leadership roles.
Upward Challenge is designed for a double-impact.
- Everybody gets to have a great time and learn more about being an alien on earth. Yes, that’s right! The Bible says we are more than just mere humans – we are God’s special agents here. So we need to get to grips with looking at the world through spiritual eyes, and making a difference through spiritual power.
- For some young people the impact goes even deeper. Upward Challenge is a leadership development program, and a handful of people are mentored as student leaders. They have the privilege of receiving extra support, with hands-on learning about how to be a leader in the Kingdom of God.
Challenge & Reward
Being a Student Leader is a challenge. But it’s also fantastically rewarding, so do watch some of the video interviews on this page to see what previous Leaders think about it. As Student Leaders they…
- Are included within the Leadership Team’s daily discernment process – so they play a real part in working out what God is saying to us and what we should do about it.
- Lead the discussions and provide pastoral care for their own small groups – so they have a real responsibility for making sure that Upward Challenge is beneficial for all the young people.
- Meet for one-on-one mentoring and prayer with a designated Mentor – so they have the chance to debrief about how things are going, and be encouraged and helped to grow in their role during the week.
Being a Student Leader is not right for everyone. Jesus has all kinds of different roles for people to play in his Kingdom, and leadership is just one of those roles. But for some young people this is the next step in their growth as Jesus’ disciples. What if it’s you…?
Well, you have to apply in advance to become Student Leaders, and decisions about these applications are made by the Upward Challenge Director. We can only have about 5 to 7 Student Leaders at any camp, but don’t let that put you off! Even the process of applying can help make things more clear in your own mind. Contact PRMI if you are interested in applying as a Student Leader.
What goes on at Upward Challenge? The daily schedule:
This one hardly needs much explanation. You wake up, get dressed, and have breakfast. Simple!
We start the day’s program with personal time and space for meeting with God. After a five minute intro and prayer, it’s over to you to find a quiet place and use the Student Handbook as a guide for prayer, reflection and reading the Bible. Everybody is different, so the experiences will be unique, but we think it’s vital for Christians to learn to spend time alone with God and learn to listen to what he has to say.
Worship and Teaching
Our musicians (with a Student Worship Leader) help us draw near to God with our praises, mostly with modern music because God is up to date and not locked in the past (though He inspired some good stuff then, too!). And then we plug our brains into learning stuff about the Holy Spirit and Jesus, and how the Spirit can work in people’s lives today. We think it’s really important to have a good Bible-based foundation for our faith.
This is where the Student Leaders play a vital role. It’s up to them to help their small group have a useful time together discussing stuff that came up in the teaching; tackling any questions that people have about Jesus, the Spirit and the Father; and praying together as a small group. Sometimes everything seems really straightforward. At other times there’s all sorts of things to talk about. Every day – and every group – is different.
Lunch and cleanup
Food. We stop and eat it. And one of the small groups will take their turn to help get it sorted out and cleaned away afterwards. It helps build friendships when you just have to muck in together to sort out the tasks, and ‘service’ is an important part of Upward Challenge.
This is for real – sixty minutes of doing nothing (or even having a quick nap). Upward Challenge can be physically tiring, and we’ve found that having a siesta can really help with the stamina to be alert and engaged right through the day. (And anyway, the leaders need a break even if nobody else does!)
This one varies from day to day. One day we’ll have an outdoor team game (probably Sock Wars) even if it’s tipping down with rain! We’ll also have a service project one afternoon, doing something practical to help with Barnes Close, and other days will likely include a walk or a trip. For the final afternoon we will seek specific guidance from the Holy Spirit, trying to make sure that we keep in step with His plans.
Tea time & free time
How’s about that, eh? A cup of tea, and the chance to chill out, play games, chat, read, get away from the crowd, make music, or whatever floats your boat.
Pretty much the same as for lunch time. Food again, with setup and cleanup responsibilities to go with it.
Worship & Ministry
For the evening session we get back together for worship and the leadership team have the awesome task of helping us all follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the work He wants to do in our midst. We might have a bit more teaching, or spend the whole evening in worship, or get caught up in prayer minsitry for one another. The important thing is that together we encounter the living God and let Him have the freedom to work among us.
Grab a cup of cocoa, unwind for a while, quiet down, and then…
Yes, we really do expect people to go to sleep. It makes life much easier the next day!
The bonus bits …
We have a prayer shed available throughout the camp, and encourage everybody to reserve at least one hour-long slot for prayer in the shed. It can be an amazing personal time with God!
There’s extra stuff for the leaders to do, because they also have to find time for Student Leader mentoring appointments, and have a discernment meeting for guidance ahead of the evening Worship & Ministry session.
Read more on upward challenge