Apr 20, 2023

26 Dordt University students volunteer as student leaders at the 13th Annual Minnikota Youth Junior High Retreat

On April 21-23, 26 Dordt University students will volunteer as student leaders at the 13th Annual Minnikota Youth Junior High Retreat at Inspiration Hills in Inwood, Iowa.

Junior high school students will come from Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa to participate in the retreat. All three supporting Christian Reformed Church (CRC) classes – Minnkota, Iakota, and Heartland – will be represented, as well as students visiting from other local churches.

The Dordt students who will lead at the junior high retreat have greatly impressed Lee De Groot, youth coordinator at Minnikota Youth, who leads the retreat alongside her husband, Rev. Doug De Groot. “The Dordt students are willing to show up, meeting after meeting. They are excited to hang out with junior high students, and they’re enthusiastic about serving.”

Dillan De Jong, a senior education major of Orange City, Iowa, has served as a student leader in the junior high retreat for three years. What excites him most about being part of the retreat is getting to know the junior high students. “It’s an intentional, Christ-centered weekend where we get to know students really well and be open about Christ’s work in our lives,” he says. “We play games, do service projects, and talk through a Scripture-based theme with them, with college students as speakers.”

Dordt students participate in one of six teams: drama, speakers, service, technology, games, and praise & worship. “It amazes me every year that God puts this team together, and by the time the retreat happens, every position is filled with the talent needed,” adds De Groot.

Kira Ouwinga, a sophomore theology major from Sioux Center, Iowa, went on the retreat as a 7th grader and recalls how much of an impact it made on her life. She remembers how much she looked up to the Dordt students that led the weekend and knew that someday she would become a leader as well. “For junior high students to interact with Dordt students that are striving to live a life for Christ and desire to have that deep personal relationship with Him, it shows them how real their own faith can be.”

When Emmaline Baas, a sophomore accounting and criminal justice major from Holland, Michigan, was in middle school, she saw how many godly people had great influence in her faith journey and character development. That’s part of the reason why she decided to be a student leader at the retreat. “We all have something to learn from one another, no matter the age difference. No one is ever done growing in their faith and can always be encouraging and encouraged by those around them, which is why it’s valuable for college students and junior high school students to interact and build relationships.”

Dordt University students were once in junior high, and they also navigated through high school, says De Groot. “It’s very cool to see the junior high students watch the college student leaders have so much joy while worshiping and interacting. It is our prayer each year that this is something these junior high students remember as they go through those junior high and high school years.”

“You often see yourself in these middle schoolers in little ways, and it’s a chance to tell them some of the things you would have liked to hear as a middle schooler,” adds De Jong. “It’s formative for the student leaders as well; the middle school students end up having just as big an impact on us as we do on them!”

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.

A picture of campus behind yellow prairie flowers