Edge Goes to the Beach was nothing short of an experiment gone totally right. For the past 4 years, Edge has done a fall camp with all the typical elements: cabins in the woods, a ropes course, a blob on the lake, etc. But this year, we threw all that out the window in exchange for sand, waves, and a ukulele. The idea behind Edge Goes to the Beach was to create more of a retreat-like experience for students, where they could have more space to dive deeper into their personal walk with Jesus while building stronger relationships with peers and adult leaders – which, by the grace of God, is exactly what happened!

There was something truly remarkable about our weekend. Our Edge students have never been more engaged, excited, or invested than they were at the beach! Walls were broken down, relationships were formed and strengthened, and hearts were changed because of the Good News of Jesus. Part of what made these incredible things possible was letting them just have fun! Students had a blast playing kickball on the beach, having intense volleyball tournaments, and eating dinner by the pool for our Saturday night luau.

The content for the weekend was centered around one sentence that we broke down into 5 sessions: “Your story, told truthfully, is good news for those who are near to and far from God.” Kailey Newkirk, the reGROUP Director at Summit, was our speaker, and to say that she knocked it out of the park would be a serious understatement. Kailey brought an air of raw vulnerability when she spoke – both about her own story and about the Gospel – that was truly transformative for every student there. Throughout our weekend, students began to grasp, perhaps for the first time, that God enters into our messy stories and uses us to impact others’ stories – even in the middle of the mess. In each session you could tangibly feel the weight of students processing that who they are isn’t just the “Instagram highlights” of their stories, but the broken, messy parts of their stories as well. It was simply incredible to see the truth that God fully knows and fully loves us begin to truly settle into the hearts of teenagers.

After each session, we would have 20 minutes of quiet time for students to be alone with Jesus and do a devotional. Directly after that, students were dismissed to Connect groups where they could process the talk, what’s going on in their relationship with Jesus, and their stories with adult leaders and peers of the same gender. Our leaders told dozens of stories of students opening up and sharing the messiest parts of their stories for the first time with their Connect group. The weekend was full of breakthroughs that show God’s work of redemption in the lives of teenagers!

We’ve been back from the beach for a few weeks now, and the transformation that has taken place in students is simply remarkable. Students can’t stop talking about how incredible the beach was. But they aren’t talking about the games we played or the delicious food, they’re talking about the new ways they experienced Jesus, the impactful relationships they formed with their incredible adult leaders, and the community they developed. It has been obvious that students are truly leaning into the truth that God is present with them in their mess and uses their stories to impact those around them.