Orthodox Youth Directors of North America Meet in Phoenix, AZ

PHOENIX, AZ -- On Wednesday and Thursday, January 22-23, 2020, the Jurisdictional Orthodox Youth Directors in North America held their annual face-to-face meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. Each year the National Youth Directors meet prior to the Orthodox Youth and Camp Workers Conference (YCC) which is an event they’ve been sponsoring and hosting for 19 years. The Conference gathers together Youth and Camp Workers from all jurisdictions across North America for 2 days of learning, networking and connecting in the ministry of Orthodox youth formation. The YCC was held this year in Phoenix at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church and gathered together the National Youth Directors, parish youth workers, camp directors, camp counselors, church school teachers, and others for the two-day Conference. Each year the national Directors take the opportunity to have their face-to-face meeting to discuss and plan their work for the following year which includes advising the Committee for Youth of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States.

Seven national Youth Directors and the Chair of the Orthodox Camping Association from 6 different Orthodox jurisdictions met during the two days to move forward with their work. Part of that work included a session that discussed its annual Youth and Camper Workers Conference and what the Directors felt was going well in the annual Conferences and what each felt could be done to improve the quality of those Conferences.

In addition, the Directors discussed their Webinars for 2020; both the ones already scheduled and the ones still to be scheduled. These webinars are sponsored by the Directors and sometimes include them as guests, but also include other guests offering a wide range of topics related to Youth Formation. Upcoming webinars include topics related to the importance of prayer in the life of a Youth Worker and how to work with different personalities in a camp program setting.

A new project the Youth Directors have been working on was discussed as well – https://OrthodoxYouth.net. Orthodoxyouth.net is a website devoted to helping all those engaged in the effort to raise and form our youth in the Faith. It was launched very recently and is designed to be a resource for everyone, a website that gathers in ONE place on the internet spiritual, programmatic, and academic resources for all different types of youth work. The Directors launched the new website in 2019 and continue the process to make it a valuable tool for all youth workers across North America.
Further work of the Directors included the development of an Orthodox internship opportunity in the field of Youth Formation and Work. The internship being created and offered by the Directors will help them accomplish their work effectively especially online and in the different social media platforms. A job description was created as was a more detailed list of internship responsibilities. The Youth Directors see this as both a great opportunity for someone in the field of Youth Formation as a well as a key piece of the Directors’ work that needs additional support. Information about the internship may be found at the OYDNA website.

Another new, and key, piece of the Directors’ work that was touched on included the development of a Podcast that would be offered by the Directors and would cover a wide range of topics associated with Youth Formation. Further discussion of this particular project was deferred to its February conference call, but not before the next steps were taken to create this Podcast.
The Directors also collaborated on a working document entitled “A Letter from the Committee for Youth on Orthodox Youth Spiritual Formation” written by the Committee for Youth of the Assembly of Orthodox Canonical Bishops. There was extensive discussion on both the working document AND the field of Orthodox Youth Formation in general. The Directors spent considerable time understanding the Vision of Youth Formation as set forth by our bishops and contemplated on the many ways of implementing this vision and better serving the spiritual and other needs of our youth. This document produced a wealth of discussion and ideas upon which we could raise the level of Orthodox Youth Ministry across North America.

It was a profitable two-day meeting in Phoenix, thanks be to God for everything. Items still on the agenda for the Directors include next steps in Youth Formation, a Podcast proposal, an outline for Webinar topics, a look at next year’s Youth and Camp Workers’ Conference to be held in Washington, D.C., and further work on orthodoxyouth.net. Since the conclusion of their two-day meeting and the writing of this article, the Youth Directors met via conference call for their February meeting and began to address several of the items on its agenda.

The Orthodox Youth Directors in North America work on joint efforts to benefit the youth, young adults, and youth workers of the Orthodox faithful. This is a working committee of individuals who serve as the departmental heads of the youth, college and young adult ministry departments of the different Orthodox churches represented in the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA.