1986 ARTICLE: RLDS YOUTH CAMP—PRESCRIPTION FOR TROUBLED TEENS BY STEVE MORGAN
Steve Morgan wrote this article six months before he allegedly committed Aggravated Criminal Sodomy against a teen in his youth group
“Youth Camp — Prescription for Troubled Teens” by Steve Morgan
- Originally Published in:
- Saints Herald Magazine, vol. 133, no. 5, May 1986, pp. 21. Via catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org.
In this 1986 article, Steve Morgan, founder of The Network, urged parents to send troubled teens to the RLDS youth camps he was involved with. He assured parents their children would meet people "they can trust" and highlighted how a high-school student who had spent significant time with him at the camp had been "filled with spiritual power." This article was written when Morgan was 22, six months before court records allege he committed Aggravated Criminal Sodomy against a teen in his youth group. Morgan mentioned his involvement in "more than thirty youth camps and retreats," raising troubling concerns addressed elsewhere.
Morgan's statements, which credit Jesus Christ for giving his life meaning, conflict with his later claims that he was an "unchurched, American pagan." For more information about Steve Morgan's history of religious leadership before founding The Network, visit our "Who is Steve Morgan?" article.
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FULL TEXT OF ARTICLE
YOUTH CAMP—PRESCRIPTION FOR TROUBLED TEENS by STEVE MORGAN | MAY, 1986
Sexual indulgence, drugs, and alcohol are the ''in'' things for many young people today. Deaths from suicide and drunk driving take an alarming number of school students' lives each year. The very things teenagers think they enjoy so much are destroying them. Not only are they dying physically, but they are killing themselves spiritually as well—and they don’t know it.
As Saints we have tended to think that our children are immune to “worldly” influences, but they are not. They face the same temptations all teenagers face, but because of the hard work and commitment of many members we have an excellent program to help our young people cope. RLDS youth camps provide opportunity for them to gain life-changing strength and spiritual growth.
At the first youth camp I attended I found that there were people my age who loved me. More importantly, I found that God loved me.
Teenagers today are struggling with problems that we—their parents—seldom faced when we were in high school. Now even elementary students are having to deal with them. Mixed with these difficulties often are family problems. If ever there was a time when teenagers needed help, it is now.
Youth camping in the church goes back many years and continues to provide young people an opportunity to learn how to work together, how to love, and how to deal with problems. It is an experience in which youths, possibly for the first time, make lasting friendships. I've always felt that one reason some young people have such a difficult time is that they have no friends they can trust. When I was in high school this was my biggest problem, and it led to still more trouble. At the first youth camp I attended I found that there were people my age who loved me. More importantly, I found that God loved me. This gave me the strength to deal with my problems—and an exciting reason to live.
All of these activities help young people to learn about themselves, about others, and about their relationship with God.
New campers are often afraid they will not be accepted. This struggle for acceptance is a part of their everyday life in school, but camp is different. Lasting friendships usually are formed early in the week. And there is good, clean fun. Campers and their counselors share in swimming, volleyball, softball, various nonathletic games, campfires, beach parties and lots of food. There are also worship opportunities, classes, devotions, and time for being with friends. All of these activities help young people to learn about themselves, about others, and about their relationship with God.
John Wolf, a high priest in the Michigan Region, says, ''If there is anything Saints are good at, it's youth camping.'' Last summer I was a contractual assignee in that region. I spent the summer attending youth camps and reunions in Michigan. Here I saw the lives of hundreds of young people changed. One particular youth stands out in my mind.
I shared with [a teen camper] how Jesus Christ had given my life meaning... Thursday evening at campfire something special happened. For the first time in his life he felt the presence of God... It was thrilling to see his life being filled with spiritual power.
I met Mark at a senior high camp. We soon became close friends, and spent a lot of our time talking about his hometown, his school, and his family. He seemed like any other middle-class American teenager, but he wasn't sure if there was a God. My challenge to him was that if he would seek diligently during camp he would find a God who loved him. Mark accepted the challenge.
I shared with him how Jesus Christ had given my life meaning. It was exciting to see Mark really trying to find his Creator. Thursday evening at campfire something special happened. For the first time in his life he felt the presence of God. Later that evening he told me and another friend what he had experienced, and we prayed together. It was thrilling to see his life being filled with spiritual power. Mark will never be the same because of the opportunity he had at camp to meet his Lord.
My first year as a camp counselor was 1982. Since then I've served in this role at more than thirty youth camps and retreats. The list of young people whose lives I've seen changed is long.
My first year as a camp counselor was 1982. Since then I've served in this role at more than thirty youth camps and retreats. The list of young people whose lives I've seen changed is long. There is no substitute for the experiences they have received.
Camp is no ''sure cure'' for teenage problems, but it gives youth the opportunity to experience the principles of Jesus Christ in action. It can make a great difference in the lives of all who will receive the ministry it has to offer.