Teen Summit 2007: Stretching faith is purpose of weekend retreat in Worthington

WORTHINGTON -- After Dave Kinsman hung up posters promoting Teen Summit 2007, he began to get queries from some of his youth group members. "When they saw the poster, a couple of them said 'So where's this at?' and I said, 'Well, it's here,'" Kin...

WORTHINGTON -- After Dave Kinsman hung up posters promoting Teen Summit 2007, he began to get queries from some of his youth group members.

"When they saw the poster, a couple of them said 'So where's this at?' and I said, 'Well, it's here,'" Kinsman related.

It seems the teens didn't expect such an event to take place in their own city.

"I've taken some of the young people different places -- Minneapolis, Colorado -- for youth functions like this," explained Kinsman. "One of my philosophies is if it can happen in Minneapolis or one of the larger cities, it can happen here. I want to bring that same quality to this community. We can take 40 kids on a bus or we can impact more here in the community by bringing a quality event like this to the community. Sometimes we have the mentality that we have to go somewhere else, and there are times that it's great to do that, but it's also important for them to have a great experience right here."

Teen Summit 2007, sponsored by Catholic Life Outreach of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Worthington, will take place March 30 to April 1 at St. Mary's School, 1206 Eighth Ave. Kinsman, director of Catholic Life Outreach, bills the event as "a weekend retreat with dynamic speakers, Eucharistic adoration, skits and passionate and lively worship, small groups, great food and a whole lot of fun." He's coordinated similar efforts at previous parishes where he's served, but this is the first time in Worthington.


Teen Summit is geared toward students in ninth through 12th grades, and Kinsman expects teens from throughout southwest Minnesota and into the Sioux Falls, S.D., area. He e-mailed or sent out information to about 50 churches in the region, and scheduled the dates so that they wouldn't conflict with sporting tournaments in Minnesota or neighboring states. Kinsman isn't sure how many students to expect, although he's hopeful for a good showing. The weekend is a Catholic event, but he's encouraged the teens to include friends from other denominations.

"I'd say we'd get anywhere between 100 and 300 people," he estimated. "I've invited a lot of people from all over the place. My feeling is I want to offer the invitation to these young people, wherever they come from, and just trust we'll be prepared when the time comes for whoever shows up. ... We've had as many as 500 at this kind of thing."

For out-of-town attendees, sleeping accommodations will be made at the school, or Kinsman has worked with several local motels. He's assembled a group of experienced youth workers and recruited some college students to keep things running smoothly throughout the course of the weekend.

"The element that is key to this whole weekend is I have a great team," he said. "I've worked on and off with this team, and they're traveling from various parts of the country to be here for this. I feel humbled by their generosity to come. They've all participated in these events before and have great stories about what they've done for them. One gal up in the Twin Cities said that a weekend like this was a key thing that formed her life, and she's so thankful for that.

"So there can be some wonderful fruits from things like this. That's my hope -- to really encourage these young people to take a step in their faith and maybe to stretch them a little bit."

To stimulate that stretching process, Kinsman recruited two speakers that he hopes will connect with and inspire the teens. The Rev. Mike Lightner is a recently ordained priest who could have aspired to a career in pro football but chose a religious vocation instead. An avid Green Bay Packer fan, Lightner, who stands 6-feet, 5 inches tall and weighs about 320 pounds, played tackle for Eastern Michigan University and was recruited by the Cleveland Browns.

"I've worked with him every time I've done something like this," related Kinsman. "He'd drive out from Green Bay, Wis., on his motorcycle. ... Because he's a big guy and loved football, there's kind of a neat appeal, especially with the guys."

The weekend's second speaker, Nikki Grandpre, also has a unique posting on her résumé -- she was Miss South Dakota and represented that state in the 2006 Miss America Pageant. A native of Pierre, S.D., she is currently pursing a doctorate degree in pharmacy at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.


The weekend's schedule will be rounded with a variety of entertainment, worship and recreational experiences, according to Kinsman.

"We'll have skits, small groups, and a friend of mine is coming in who's got an interactive game called Couch Potato," he detailed. "There are times when we're going to have some large-group rec time and interaction, and we'll break up the day with different things.

"I've got friends coming from Milwaukee to help with the worship," Dave continued, adding that his wife, Dawn, who is a Christian singer, will lead the worship team. "It's going to be fun worship and very youth-oriented. We're going to keep the food pretty youth-friendly, too. I asked some of the young people what they might want to eat for the weekend, and we're going to make it as accommodating as possible."

Kinsman looks at the weekend as a way for the youths to connect with each other and discover some things about their own faith.

"One of the things that comes to mind in describing this is that it's a spiritual boot camp," he said. "With all the things these young people have going on and all the emphasis on their physical health and academic health, this is kind of the spiritual dimension. How do we get them to grow in that, because if we don't, spiritual atrophy can set in. For us, it's looking at how can we exercise that spiritual dimension, help them to grow in that and bring in different speakers to encourage that growth."

Registration for Teen Summit 2007 will be from 6 to 7 p.m. March 30, and the weekend's events will conclude at 5 p.m. April 1. For more information, contact Kinsman, 372-2090 or via e-mail, .

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