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 | Michael Spath | Photography by Tom Gennara

Jeff grew in his faith – and met his wife – at DYLC

Jeff Corder is the Coordinator of Youth Ministry at St. Gerard in Lansing, and would not hold his position and possess influence on so many if he had not attended the Diocesan Youth Leadership Camp (DYLC).

On a more personal level, Jeff was married July 18, and would not have walked down the aisle with his wife, Beth, if not for his experience at DYLC.

Both Jeff and Beth attended the Diocesan Youth Leadership Camp as 15-year-olds in 2006. They would return, first as teen team members and then as adult team members, the latter kindling a love that led to marriage.

It is typical for DYLC to create lifelong relationships, though rarely romantically. The Diocesan Youth Leadership Camp focuses its attention and succeeds in creating deep relationships with Christ, with one another, and with the community the camp inspires each individual to serve.

“It’s one of those experiences that is indescribable,” Jeff says. “When you can’t put into words an experience … that’s when you know it’s powerful.

“One of the things that a group of us that have a shared DYLC experience has said is it’s the closest thing we can experience to heaven on earth. Everyone there is in perfect harmony, and we all have the same goals. We all want to get to know Christ more through others and we all want to use our relationship with Christ to inspire others.”

Recommended by parish leaders – a priest, a youth ministry coordinator, a teacher or a committee – teenage congregants are chosen because they have already sought Christ and now wish to share their love for Christ with others.

Through small group activities, prayer and conversation, the week-long camp serves as an incubator for new disciples.

“There is an opportunity to grow in your own faith at the camp, but this is really about learning to go out into the world to be Christ to others,” Jeff says. “That can be intimidating, but DYLC gives you all the tools to be courageous and to heed Christ’s call to spread the Gospel.

“And for every person, that might mean something else. It could be a formal position within the church but it could be through volunteer work in your community or being a good role model.

“There are many different ways to be one of Christ’s disciples and at DYLC you begin that journey of self-discovery to understand what he’s calling you to do.”

For Jeff, the Diocesan Youth Leadership Camp put him on a path to impact the lives of the children and teenagers of the St. Gerard community. For Beth, the camp shaped her desire to pursue occupational therapy, believing she can help rehabilitate those in need physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

“I’m more of an introvert and I don’t do well in a big group but at the camp, I was filled with the Holy Spirit, and that expression of love makes you want to reach out and be a part of something greater than just your own life,” Beth shares. “It taught me that I have a role to play in helping people, impacting their lives and teaching them about God.”

Introvert or extrovert, shy or gregarious, the Diocesan Youth Leadership Camp serves every individual because, as a child of God, every individual is valued.

“One of the things you learn is that every single person matters,” Jeff said. “God created each of us with a purpose, a usefulness, and it is the responsibility of a leader to realize the gifts and talents of everyone in the group so they can realize their strengths.

“It’s a great lesson about life – we all have a role to play in God’s plan.”

We asked Jeff: Why send teens to the Diocesan Youth Leadership Camp? Following is his response:

At St. Gerard, we rely on DYLC to teach the youth that we send to camp the skills that they will use to bring others into our Youth Ministry program. DYLC teaches communication skills, small group dynamics, how to facilitate groups, how to plan group events, the importance of trust, and the power of reconciliation. We also teach them the “why” of Christian service and why we must have a servant heart.

DYLC truly makes me think of the old saying, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ DYLC is forming the youth who will go out and bring others to Christ. The purpose is the encounter that the campers have, and the inevitable encounter that they will give to someone else. DYLC is a camp that keeps on giving. It creates Fishers of Men.


Young people interested in the DYLC can talk to their youth minister or other parish leader about the opportunity