Because creating key memory events for teens is an important part of their spiritual development, each year the Youth Ministries Department of the Gulf States Conference hosts EPIC Encounters, a teen invitational, at Camp Alamisco in Dadesville, AL. According to Youth Ministry Director Michel Rodriguez, EPIC Encounters is a place where teens get together to celebrate what God is doing in their lives.
On November 3-5, 2023, over 100 teens from across the Gulf States Conference, along with Southern Adventist University students from the ministry Engage, spent the weekend participating in worship services, nature adventures and social activities with the aim of creating lasting memories and spiritual encounters with God.
When speaking of the Southern Adventist University worship team Engage’s involvement in the weekend, Trace, a sophomore at Southern said, “This is my first Engage trip. Some of us are playing; some are singing. I’m running social media and getting content for the weekend. It’s super important for me to be here because I know that God has given all of us a great talent. I love that we’re able to come out here and share that with the kids and interact with people from the local area and have a spirit-filled weekend.”
In addition to the spiritual encounters, the chance to build strong friendships stood out for the teen attendees.
Eliana from Bay St. Louis SDA Church highlighted her favorite moment saying, “EPIC has been good to me because of the friends I have made and the friends that I meet here.”
Similarly, Sofia of Rainsville SDA Church said, “My favorite thing about EPIC is you get to meet a lot of different people from other states, and you learn more about God. It’s fun when you come with your friends. I come with my friends every year.”
Because of the beautiful setting, the attendees were able to go on nature walks, hike and canoe. The standout event was on Saturday evening at midnight, when attendees participated in the long-standing tradition of the Polar Plunge, where the campers jump in the lake at midnight.
Zack, senior finance major from the Engage team at Southern Adventist University, expressed that “Engage has been a blessing. It has been my journey the whole time at Southern. I have been able to go to events like these – youth rallies all over the United States – get to meet youth in high school. This is an important moment in your life. This is my second time at Engage. I still remember some kids. Being able to provide that worship, we let them know that God loves them and we love them; and we get to worship together. It’s just been a blessing.”
Samuel from Bay St. Louis SDA Church said that “Alamisco is one of my happy places. Coming here has been really exciting, and the sermons, the music and everything is building up to tonight where everything is going to wrap up but hopefully we all bring home a special piece of what has happened here.”