How It Began:
In 2004, I attended a youth pastors conference to promote Snowbird. I did not expect it to impact me in the way that it did. During that conference I attended a break-out style session on Creative Worship. For those of you who know me, you know there was no way I was going to pass on that. So, there I was in the middle of about 200 youth pastors, leaders in the church, lay workers and various other vendors who may have happened to stop in. The teacher spoke about creative ways to pray and outlined the use of “stations” during the prayer time. For instance, one example would be to have all the students get out their cell phones and spend five minutes praying through their contacts. This led to other ideas, which led to other examples, which led me to day dreaming, scheming and before I knew it I was back at Snowbird asking Kahuna if I could have an old bus to put in a few prayer stations for the students who came to camp that summer. If you have been to Snowbird, you can see that his response was like, “An old bus? Why not just remodel the prayer chapel?” (Originally, someone donated and designate money to build a chapel up on the hill… but before it was finished, we had already out grown it. It was used to house summer staff in the early days and one week of kids camp in 2003.)
The First Summer:
So, in 2005 I used every last drop of paint I had, thrift store finds, re-used scraps from various building projects around camp and a whapping $25 to create the first prayer stations. That summer we encouraged students to hike up to the chapel to extend their worship time after services. The response was overwhelming. There were numerous stations set up against the outer walls with large rugs in the middle for students to sit on and pray, journal or wait in line for a prayer station to open up. Stations included: Gratitude, praying for different countries around the world, the persecuted church, a creative station (students drew pictures or wrote poems about God) and many more.
Sure, we decorated, planned and prayed that students would connect with God in a new and fresh way, but we really had no idea how students would respond. One night someone forgot to turn on the worship cd, so the whole time the prayer chapel was open, it was dead quiet. One might think it would be intimidating for teenagers, but actually the quiet is inviting and reverent. To this day the prayer chapel is quiet, and it is awesome!
On a different night that first week, it had rained. So, someone took his or her shoes off at the door… and so did everyone else. I remember walking up there that night and seeing the whole porch covered with flip flops and tennis shoes. I am sure that person did not think they were starting a tradition that night, but usually most people in the summer remove their shoes before entering the prayer chapel.
There are so many amazing things I could say about the prayer chapel. It is a solemn, quiet, powerful place where students are praying, confessing, interceding, journaling, and pouring out their hearts to God in an extremely unique way. It is unbelievable to hear how God is working in the lives of students each year.
**FYI:Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters is the camp ministry where my husband and I have worked since 2003. We both served on summer staff in 2001 and over a course of interesting events, God led us both to come on full-time staff in 2003, but we did not marry until March of 2006.
When We had our first little girl, 2008, I took a big step back from hands on ministry at SWO. Currently I stay involved through leading worship for various retreats and summer sessions, graphic design and re-creating the prayer chapel annually. My husband continues to work full time and I am able to stay at home with our babies. We live super close to camp which makes it easy to visit and hang out as much as possible. We love it!
As I re-model the prayer chapel this spring, I have decide to blog about it as well. I look forward to sharing this years newly awakened, artistic adventures. Enjoy!
Also, if you are inspired to use any of these stations with your youth groups/small groups/ Sunday school class please just leave a comment and I will be happy to share the instructions with you.