Twenty-three years ago Kirk Pankratz was in his backyard praying about his present situation. He was a young Senior Pastor who had just launched a church in a small town in Oklahoma. He wanted wisdom and direction. What he got was a mandate from God to reach teenagers in America. The beginning of this vision had to do with a summer camp. The first steps toward its fulfillment came in 1987 when Youth America was born.
The Early Years
Like no other youth camp before, the progressive, energetic summer camps of Youth America swelled to thousands of students in attendance on the campus of ORU in Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the first few years. Soon after, another aspect of Youth America came to light: Campus Clubs. Taking the lead role in our nation, Kirk and the Youth America Team set out to see a Bible Club started on every school campus in the country. In the early 90s, almost every state had a Youth America Campus Club – and much legal action was pursued concerning the “equal access” laws of the land.
In the mid 90s, Youth America launched another arm of ministry dedicated to equipping Youth Pastors. The Quest Leadership Conference was a catalyst for many churches, while the summer camps were still raging and expanding.
In 1994 Youth America’s Epic Plant was opened right in the backyard of Church of the Harvest, the local church Kirk started in Oklahoma City. Sleeping up to 840 campers per week, this 60-acre campus within the city limits gave Youth America the potential to expand. As the new millennium dawned, Youth America was impacting thousands of students and leaders, and the Youth America Relational Resource Ministry was launched to equip leaders and students to reach to the city within each week of camp. Today Youth America isn’t just a national summer camp outreach, but it’s also the local expression of youth ministry at Church of the Harvest.
From his backyard 28 years ago, Kirk Pankratz couldn’t have imagined how Youth America would evolve… or the countless ministries it would launch… or the thousands of lives that would be saved… or the numbers of people who would be called into ministry from that one revelation. He just knew that the vision of Youth America was God inspired.
One thing is certain. In its timeline, you can see for yourself that Youth America has always been a ministry willing to blaze new paths and attempt innovative approaches to reaching young people. If you are of that same spirit, consider joining thousands of others with the same vibe at camp this summer.
Youth America Timeline (camp themes):
- 1987 – Youth America Is Born
- 1988 – Taking Back The Heart Of America
- 1989 – Preparing A Prophetic Generation
- 1990 – Going Boldly Where No Man Has Gone Before
- 1991 – Locked Up No Longer
- 1992 – Bustin’ Down The Barriers
- 1993 – Crankin’ Up The Heat And Making Hell Sweat
- 1994 – The Genesis Expedition
- 1995 – Burn The Ships
- 1996 – The Edge
- 1997 – Decade Of Destiny
- 1998 – Go The Distance
- 1999 – Year Of The Bug
- 2000 – The Appointed Time
- 2001 – A Gripping Focus
- 2002 – In Motion
- 2003 – Ready To Rise
- 2004 – One Voice
- 2005 – Marked For Greatness
- 2006 – Born To Lead
- 2007 – They Devoted Themselves
- 2008 – Distinguishing Light
- 2009 – Rule The World
- 2010 – A Cause – A Generation – A Revolution
- 2011 – We’re Going Public With This
- 2012 – Awaken
- 2013 – On The Rise
- 2014 – Undefeated
- 2015 – Strictly Inclusive