One of the frequently asked questions at St. Margaret’s is “How is the youth program doing?” Or sometimes it’s “Do we even have a youth program?”
The answer is a resounding YES! Not only is there a program, but it’s thriving (on)!
For those who have grown up in the Episcopal Church, today’s youth program doesn’t look exactly like the one when they were in middle school and high school. To paraphrase a line from a Presidential debate, “The 80’s called, and they wanted their youth program back.”
There are traditional youth groups at St. Margaret’s, one for middle school and one for high school, and these groups meet every two to three weeks. The youth are involved in many activities, especially with the Diocese. They have attended retreats at Camp Stevens, and several of them attended the National Episcopal Youth conference in Oklahoma. In addition, two of our high school youth group members will be a part of a mission trip to Guatemala later this month. (St. Margaret’s News will have a special article about that trip next week, so stay tuned for more details.) Middle school members will participate in Urban Immersion, a five-day mission project in Los Angeles this summer.
The parish sees the members of our traditional youth groups participate in worship as acolytes. But much like an iceberg, we only see the small part that shows above the water.
Now in its fourth year, Thrive On, a youth services program, is serving a larger group of students. Chet Hecht, Director of Outreach, Fellowship and Family Ministries, goes to Lincoln Elementary School and Palm Desert Charter Middle School to work with students who are members of Club Thrive on those campuses. The program focuses on education, character building, leadership and service. At Palm Desert High School, the on-campus group is called Agape, and it focuses on service and making a difference in the world. As Chet said, “This is about helping young people to understand their role in society.”
One example of service is a group of five to ten students from PDHS who come to St. Margaret’s on Friday afternoons from 3:30 to 5:00 to pack USDA bags for distribution the following Tuesday by Neighbors 4 Neighbors. Students also complete campus beautification projects at their school sites, and twice a year, the youth in the Thrive On program go to Camp Ronald McDonald in Garner Valley to spend a weekend of work service at the camp.
We’ve all heard the mission of St. Margaret’s–Build The Body, Equip The Saints, and Change the World. Our youth programs exemplify the mission of the church. Through participation in traditional youth programs and Thrive On, the youth of the greater community are answering God’s call to serve others, and they are making a positive impact in the world.
For more information, contact Chet Hecht or visit www.thriveon.org.
Members of the PDHS Agape Club helping Chet Hecht pack USDA bags for Neighbors 4 Neighbors.