The newest edition of the OneEvent will take place on Labor Day weekend, scattered among the five camps in the Great Plains Conference.
It’s unofficially being called “OneEvent, many locations,” according to the Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford, intergenerational discipleship coordinator.
For the first six years of OneEvent, it gathered youth from across the conference for a rally and other activities, either in Salina or Grand Island. It was scheduled to be reimagined last year as a summertime service mission project in Lincoln and Omaha but was canceled because of COVID restrictions.
Camp directors, Gepford said, felt like the plan for 2020 would overlap with their missions with youth, and discussions began to work together.
“We really wanted to take a more collaborative approach to the OneEvent,” Gepford said. “Really, the goal is to minister to kids and to youth together as a united front.”
Gepford said that although plans are being made for five separate venues Sept. 3-5, organizers will be ready to adjust if coronavirus concerns return.
“We wanted to imagine an event that was as nimble as possible,” she said. “We know gathering hundreds of people in one space is out of the question during this time. But having multiple locations when we’re connected in some way is a little bit more doable and flexible.”
Backup plans include recording each of the presenters and making the material available for churches who want to have their own mini-retreat, Gepford said.
Each location, she said, would include worship, workshops and activities unique to each camp. There will be a service component at each location, she added, and activities such as campfire worship, “a meaningful experience that you can only get at camp.”
Polly Pierce, an adult worker with the Conference Council on Youth Ministries and director of student ministry at Omaha FaithWestwood UMC, said she is looking forward to the revamped OneEvent.
“I’m hoping this will be a great opportunity for all different sizes of churches to experience one another,” she said. “As big as our conference is, between Nebraska and Kansas, having something a little closer will be more attractive to some churches.”
Pierce said the four-plus hour bus ride from Omaha to Salina for past OneEvents drained her youths’ energy.
“We spent as much time in a bus to get there as we did at the event itself,” she said. “It’s good having something a little closer to home to everyone and not making everyone drive.”
Pierce said she liked the idea of the camp setting.
“I’m hoping just getting outside and having fun will be something people will value as well,” she said.
Registration is now open, with a cost of $100 per person until July 1. From July 2 to Aug. 1, the cost is $125 per person, and from Aug. 2-25, the cost is $150.
Participants may have their choice of camp location, with an option for assigning to the closest camp for those uncertain of the most convenient location.
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