A Different Kind of Summer Camp

By Rachel Greco

Have you ever been to summer camp? Well, Teen ICC, the JAARS Intercultural Communications Course (ICC), developed especially for teenage children of mission workers, isn’t an ordinary summer camp. This course is based on the adult ICC, which is an interactive, four-week course that prepares mission workers to serve the Lord in multicultural, multigenerational teams, whether overseas or stateside.

About 15 years ago, somebody who attended ICC gently and respectfully said, “If there could be something like ICC for our teenagers, that would be a huge gift.” So staff members in the Learning and Development department created a course based on the adult lessons but geared toward teens.

This summer, the first Teen ICC was held after about a three-year gap due to COVID-19. Christy Dubois coordinated the course, which was attended by six students ages 12 to 18 from two families. It was Christy’s first time to lead the course, and although there were challenges, she said: “I’ve seen the Lord’s hand over [Teen ICC] so much.”

The teens with Christy (far right) and helper Lauren.

While the parents were in their sessions, their children were in theirs, learning about topics such as worldviews and spiritual warfare and even memorizing Philippians 2:1-11 along with the adults. “It was helpful for us,” Kurt, a parent, said, “because they were teaching similar topics that we were going through in class. So then we could have a shared vocabulary with our kids and talk about the same concepts together at the same time.”

One of the families had spent years transitioning to different places as the father served with the military. The other family is on the way to serve in Papua New Guinea as house parents. The teens were in different places of processing, but they learned from each other. “It was really nice for [our kids] to feel like, ‘Oh, we’re not alone. There’s other kids that are like me that are experiencing this. So that was so helpful,’” said Beth, the mother of the family heading to Papua New Guinea.

The teens learned how to transition well, whether to life in Papua New Guinea or back to life here in the U.S. They made a transition bridge on the floor and walked across it, talking about the place where they are at in their transition.


Learning about the transition bridge

Christy saw several times when God moved in the hearts of the young people. During the CrossVenture study of Ephesians 1, one participant learned that God’s view of them is more important than anyone else’s. One of the young men expressed a sense of healing during a prayer walk in the woods near JAARS. “[God] had a plan for these kids,” Christy said.

Teen ICC wasn’t all serious and heavy subject matter, though. As Jodi Bunn, the director of ICC, explained, “We want it to be fun; we want there to be playing and swimming and food.” As at a summer camp, the teens were able to hang out at the pool at JAARS almost every day. They also learned about JAARS interactively by taking a water safety course, and they even had the opportunity to practice their newly acquired skills at a local lake.

The teens put their water safety skills to use at a nearby lake.

The teens practice water safety skills on land.

They spent three days in the woods around JAARS participating in CrossVenture. They also took a tour of the JAARS campus, rode in 4WD vehicles on the JAARS off-road training course, listened to several guest speakers, and rode in a helicopter.

When Lisa asked her children what their favorite part of the course was, they told her, “Being able to put words to feelings and experiences. These are the words that I can use to express the transitions and what I’m feeling through it.”

For everyone involved—staff members, parents, and teens—the experience was a blessing, and now these teens have the tools they need to process the transitions they’ll face in life as mission workers.