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Conference youth groups innovate around stormy weather

By: Revs. Katie Ricke and Bryce Blank

DakYouth 2022 was a victim of winter weather in the Dakota, as the leaders saw dangerous weather forecast. So some youth groups of youth who couldn’t travel to Aberdeen for the big event, but had milder weather, got innovative.

Since the arrangements were already made to be off school and in some cases homework was already completed, youth from several area churches came up with alternate plans to come together and celebrate.


Watertown and Brookings UMC youth and adults broke the ice with games during their impromptu lock-in. Photos from Bryce Blank.

Youth from Yankton First UMC got together for fellowship and an alternate program of their own. Rev. Katie Ricke of Yankton First UMC shared the experience she witnessed from the youth:

“When we got the word that DakYouth was going to be canceled due to the weather, it was a Wednesday,” Ricke wrote. “Since the youth meet on Wednesday nights, the youth leadership and the youth brainstormed and came up with this alternative plan together. They also decided that whatever funds they had left over from what they had already paid-in for DakYouth they would donate back to Dak Youth to help cover the costs that couldn't be refunded.”

The students who were registered to go to DakYouth, along with other students who were available, went to Vermillion. Ricke recalled, “They went out for pizza and went to a movie. I think some went to a Marvel movie and some went to a romantic comedy. Then they came back to the church for a lock-in where they played games and had fun.”  The youth and leaders left Saturday morning. 


“From what I can tell,” Pastor Katie noted, “it looks like we had about 17 students attend the event.” 

“We have some pretty amazing youth in this church. They really love spending time together.  While I think they were bummed not to get to go out of town for the weekend - they were still happy to do something. And this allowed for some of the kids who couldn't go to DakYouth to be involved as well.”

Further north, in East-central South Dakota, 24 youth and adults from Watertown First UMC and First Brookings UMC got together for a lock-in. They got to know each other through playing games, worship, and other activities. Pastor Bryce Blank of Watertown First UMC shared his recollections from a long night:

“We played mixer games, all church games like sardines, and team games like ‘Do You Know Your Neighbor?’ and ‘Family Feud.’ We also had midnight worship and watched a movie.”

The youth really enjoyed the lock-in and one Brookings youth even requested that they make it an annual event. The parents were appreciative that Watertown was able to host an event and said their youth had a good time.


The Brookings and Watertown UMC youth groups made a detour when DakYouth 2022 was canceled, but had a great time at Watertown First UMC.

Rev. Blank shared, “Pastor Jen [Tyler, of Watertown First UMC] joked to me earlier in the day that if DakYouth got canceled we might want to do a lock-in. To which I said we actually should. When we found out the event was cancelled, we reached out to churches in the surrounding community who wouldn’t be getting as severe of weather. After that it was a matter of spreading the word and putting together activities!”

If we’re faithful, innovative, and resourceful, good can sometimes come from the problems we perceive. It’s refreshing to see youth from our Conference persevere to grow in faith and love of Jesus through challenging weather.

Winter Connection 2023

Winter Connection is up next!

2023 Winter Connection (Camp #800) will be held at Bismarck, Sioux Falls, and Rapid City, on January 27-28, 2023.
Youth in grades 6-12 and adult chaperones are welcome at any of the three sites.

Winter Connection is an opportunity for youth to gather, share, worship, and serve others. Each year there is a focus on a particular theme and scripture along with a unique and important component of service. Our theme for 2023 is Follow Me (Call to be fisher of people), and our scripture is Matthew 4:19-20.
Here are some fun photos of a Winter Connection.



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