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Youth 2023 – What You Need to Know

by | Sep 20, 2022 | Clergy and Lay Leadership Development, Conference Newsletter, News, Spiritual Formation

Youth from around our annual conference will be attending the quadrennial Youth 2023 gathering in Daytona Beach, Florida, in July 2023, and we are helping you and your churches coordinate attendance for this amazing event. Whether you have a full group going, or just youth or two, we can help!

Join us as we plan to travel, play, worship, learn, and grow as disciples of Jesus together!

We will book hotel lodging for the event, additional lodging for a fun day at Universal Studios Resort just prior to the event, and airfare together as one large group. Our plans are as follows:

  • Sunday, July 23, 2023: Flight, Phoenix to Orlando; 1/2 nights, Orlando Hotel
  • Monday, July 24, 2023: Park Hopper Tickets to Universal Studios & Universal Islands of Adventure (apx. 9a – 9P); 2/2 nights, Orlando Hotel
  • Tuesday, July 25, 2023: Van/Bus transport to Daytona Beach for Youth 2023
  • Friday, July 28, 2023: Van/Bus transport to Orlando International Airport; Flight, Orlando to Phoenix

The total cost will be $1,400 or less per person. Deposits and fees are to be paid to the Desert Southwest Conference Youth 2023 Fund, from where we will pay all registration and travel fees.

Deadlines

  • October 30, 2022: Initial registration and $100 deposit (deposit is refundable through March 1)
  • January 15, 2023: Deposit #2, $400 (balance of event registration and lodging fees; refundable through March 1)
  • March 22, 2023: Deposit #3, $500 (balance of airfare, apx. $500)
  • June 15, 2023: Remaining balance (≤ 400) due

2 Ways to Register as Part of Our Conference Group

  1. Youth Leaders of local churches should register the youth of their church at once as a group, as in years past. We will provide a log-in and password for our master account, and youth leaders can add their adult chaperones and youth to the master registration. *Youth Leaders – watch for an email from Rev. Melissa Rynders containing details on what information to collect for your youth participants in order to register.
  2. Parents of single youth who want to attend but are not going with a local church group may register them directly. Please contact Rev. Melissa Rynders to gain access to our registration.

If you have any questions, or have already registered and want to update your registration to join our group in its arrangements, please contact Rev. Melissa Rynders.

Most Anticipated Questions

What is Youth 2023 and why should we consider sending our youth?

Youth 2023 is our quadrennial (that is “every four years”) global gathering of United Methodist youth currently in grades 6 to 12. The event is filled with interactive learning, worship, Bible study, service opportunities, and fellowship time with cutting-edge speakers and amazing musical artists.

Youth 2023 will be in Daytona Beach, Florida, July 25-28, 2023. (Yes, we know that’s late, and many of our school districts are already back in session. It is up to your youth group and parents to decide, but we encourage you to consider attending as this can be a once-in-a-lifetime event that nurtures a young person’s spiritual self.)

Why are we trying to register and travel together? Can I just register and send my own youth?

You absolutely can send your own youth group to Youth2023 without taking part in our conference registration and travel arrangements. We are coordinating this to help not only large youth groups, but also those smaller churches that may be missing some of the resources necessary: chaperones, funds, etc. By joining together we are blocking rooms together at the event, negotiating discounted rates for travel and tickets to Universal Studios, and helping to ensure we have adequate adult chaperones for the event. As is true of our United Methodist connection overall, we are better together. So we hope you’ll join us.

Whether you are registering a group, or just one youth, we’re here for you!

How do I register?

There are two ways to register:

  1. Youth Leaders: As in years past, you can register your youth and chaperones to attend the trip, but we ask you do so under our master group and leader Rev. Melissa Rynders. Contact Rev. Rynders to receive the user name, log in, and password for our account, and then you can add your youth and chaperone(s) to our master Desert Southwest Conference group. When asked for payment, simply choose “pay by check.” We will take care of collecting and sending all payments for all registrants!
  1. Parents: If your youth wants to attend, but your church doesn’t have a youth group going, we can still help! Contact Rev. Melissa Rynders to get information on how to register.

Will my youth be safe?

Obviously no one can completely guarantee you that your youth won’t do something silly, slip on the stairs, and break an arm. Accidents happen. But to the best of our ability as pastors, youth leaders, and caring adults, we are going to do all we can to ensure that our travel to, participation in, and return from Youth2023 will be as safe as possible.

All adult chaperones will be confirming they have undergone adequate background checks per our Desert Southwest Conference policies (weather they are logged with their local church or the conference), and we will work to ensure that youth are supervised in keeping with the best practices of churches.

Okay, so they’ll be safe. Will my youth have fun?

We think so. We’re going to a theme park and will likely spend time on the beach, not to mention attend a ginormous national event with youth potentially form around the world!

Youth2023 is also taking seriously that different youth have different needs and want to create a safe and welcoming environment for all youth who attend. As part of that, the event is partnering with “Kulture City” to create spaces for, and hospitable ways to respond to , different sensory needs of youth and young adults. You’ll find information about these plans on the Youth2023 website.

Can my youth bring friends if they aren’t part of our church?

Absolutely. There is no requirement that youth are members of United Methodist Churches! The more the merrier.

Can my youth bring pets?

Sadly, no. We’d all love to bring our fur friends with us if we could.

There are likely exceptions for licensed care animals, but we do not have that information at this time. If this is a real need for your youth, please let us know, as the logistics of travel, lodging, and event registration would require inquiring about such a need in multiple locations.

How much will this really cost?

Less than $1,400 per person! Right now that is a good-faith estimate we are using, based on preliminary evaluations of all the costs necessary to logistically herd dozens of youth and adults across country by air, through a major theme park, and to the event itself. We anticipate the final cost will come in under this figure, but cannot know for certain until we’ve made final contracts for discounted travel arrangements through a local travel agent. We will not charge any one more than the actual cost – we don’t have any overhead we need to cover – so if costs are less than collected we will refund the difference.

What, when, and how do I need to pay?

We are looking for initial registration & a deposit of by October 30 to reserve spaces as we block rooms. To that end we are setting up the following deadlines:

  • October 30: Deadline for Initial Registration ($100, refundable through March 1)
  • January 15: Mid-Commitment and Deposit (balance of event registration/lodging fee for those we register, $400)
  • March 22: Final Commitment and Deposit (balance of airfare, apx. $500) – 90 days
  • June 15: Remaining balance (≤ $400) due June 15.

Send all deposits and payments to the Desert Southwest Conference Youth 2023 fund. Youth leaders may send in single checks for attendees.

My youth, or my church, can’t afford $1400. What can we do?

We encourage youth, individually and as groups, to share with their local churches about the event and try to raise funds. Many of our local church youth groups are engaging in fundraising as a part of their planning to attend this event, and we might be able to help connect you with one so that your youth could potentially benefit from such work.

We are also working with churches with few or no youth but an interest in nurturing young peoples’ faith to provide scholarship funds. Clergy from our annual conference are making appeals and raising money to help ensure that any youth in our churches who want to go to this event will have the ability to do so! Contact Rev. Doug Handlong for more information.

I don’t have any youth at the moment, but can I send youth to this fantastic event?

Absolutely! As shared above, we want to ensure that youth who want to go are able to, and we anticipate that financial support may be necessary to help that happen. If you want to help fund one or more youth to attend, or otherwise contribute to the scholarship fund, please contact Rev. Doug Handlong.

Do we need to provide chaperones?

Not necessarily. If you have a youth group going and can do so, there are guidelines on how many adults to send with how many youth. If you don’t have the chaperones in your church but have youth who want to go, we can help. By traveling and registering together, we are able to add additional chaperones from willing volunteers across our conference.

Who chooses the trip’s adult chaperones, and how do they ensure said adults are’t secretly heinous supervillains? 

This coordinated effort began with a group of clergy and one of our district superintendents, and they will work to ensure that we have adequate adult coverage for the youth who register to attend. We anticipate that Central East District Superintendent Rev. Melissa Rynders will help with chaperone selection and the necessary background checks and training.

What are the travel arrangements?

We plan to fly together out of Phoenix, Arizona to Orlando, Florida, staying at a hotel in Orlando for two nights while we visit Universal Orlando Resort. We will be using rental vans to transport youth from Orlando to Daytona (and back) for the event, and are booking a block of rooms together, initially for 40 participants, in the same hotel.

We don’t have many youth. How can I help our youth who want to go connect with others going on this trip? 

We have many youth groups that attend this event! If you don’t have a group, or don’t have many in your group going, we can help connect you with the two to three closest United Methodist Churches who are sending a group, so that your youth can connect with them in advance.

What would John Wesley do?

He’d definitely attend Youth 2023! He might stand on the beach and preach, but he’d be there!

Who should I contact for more information?

Beyond your church’s youth leader(s), the best single person to contact if you have further questions or need assistance is Rev. Melissa Rynders.

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