Youth eXcelling in Leadership (YXL) East, the leadership development camp for high school students under the oversight of the Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM), has combined its weeklong summer camp with Reformed Youth Ministry’s (RYM) Mid-Atlantic conference. The merger will enable RYM to add a leadership-development component to its newest summer conference while enabling YXL to continue a model that otherwise might not have been sustainable.

Each summer there have been three YXL summer camps: YXL Horn Creek in Colorado, YXL Northeast in Pennsylvania, and YXL East hosted at Covenant College. While YXL Horn Creek and YXL Northeast each have their own leadership teams, YXL East was under the CDM’s direct oversight.

YXL East recruited 70-100 students by asking pastors, youth directors, and church sessions to recommend students they believed were ready to take the next step in their faith through a conference that would push the students spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally. Each year 25-40 churches sent students.

According to Danny Mitchell, CDM Youth Ministry coordinator, CDM leadership had been praying about the sustainability of its model for several years. The staff and permanent committee concluded that while YXL East was a valuable experience for students who attended, the model was difficult to maintain and not directly within the CDM’s stated purpose.

“Our hearts were telling us to keep putting a YXL conference on, but our heads were saying we need to partner with someone to take YXL to the next level,” Mitchell said.

The Rev. Joey Stewart, RYM executive director, then entered the conversation. As RYM prepared to launch a new conference, Stewart invited CDM coordinator Stephen Estock to join with RYM in creating a leadership development track for the conference.

For 40 years, RYM has hosted summer conferences for high school and middle school students. RYM now hosts six summer conferences throughout the country.

Though RYM is not exclusively a PCA ministry, the organization has strong PCA connections, even as it reaches out to other Reformed denominations. RYM and YXL use similar structures, and both organizations rely heavily on Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) pastors for their Gospel-centered preaching, teaching, and worship.

Mitchell said the goal is to launch YXL at the Mid-Atlantic conference and later expand it to other RYM conferences.

In announcing the change on the YXL East website, Mitchell said, “For RYM, which has a long history of running solid summer conferences … YXL gives them the chance to offer something that they have not been able to in the past: a leadership development track. At the same time, for YXL, which has a long history of running smaller summer conferences focused on helping students grow as servant leaders, [partnering with RYM offers] the chance to work with more students and have a potentially bigger impact in the local church.”

Students who sign up for the YXL leadership track will be able to participate in some of the larger-group activities at RYM Mid-Atlantic while also having specific times set aside for the small-group teaching that is a YXL hallmark.

The RYM Mid-Atlantic conference will be Aug. 2-6, 2015, in North East, Maryland.

For more information and to register, visit rymonline.org.

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