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MLC Student Retreats

What is the best way to connect with junior high and high schoolers in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world? Plan a weekend getaway to a remote, two-story lodge with lots of room for group meals and different lounge areas for small groups and plenty of games. Sprinkle in guitar music and intentional conversation and top it all off with skiing at Powder Mountain. That is exactly what the Mountain Life Student Retreats were all about this year.
Led by Miriah Johnson, in partnership with Spud Beckstrom, of Mountain View Fellowship Church in Heber, the three-day retreats are a Student Ministry tradition. Eight high school students attended Winter Wildness, held over Martin Luther King weekend, while twenty junior high students participated in Winter Madness, the following week. And even though Miriah has the energy of a real-life superhero, she had four adult leaders join her on each retreat to help corral the spirited teens, along with six additional student leaders at the junior high retreat.
A Leader Who Consistently Shows Up
When Jordan Price left the Student Ministry Pastor position at Mountain Life this past fall, Miriah, who has been serving in youth ministry for almost five years, stepped into the role of Interim Student Ministry Coordinator. Keep in mind that she already has a day job coaching at Black Diamond Gymnastics. “I’m around kids all the time,” says Miriah who coaches kids ages 18 months to 16 years and then spends two nights a week leading Student Ministry activities at MLC.

When asked what she enjoys most about working with the youth group, she responds with a smile, “It’s their energy and the fact that what you say and what you do means so much in their lives. Knowing that I am a consistent person in their life who is influencing them in a positive way.”

Originally from Joplin, Missouri, Miriah grew up in a family of faith and moved to Park City in 2013 for aerials skiing, even though she had never skied before. After crashing and tearing her ACL, Miriah used the time during her recovery to build her personal relationship with Christ. And that in a nutshell tells you the type of person she is – tenacious, committed, and willing to try just about anything. The perfect recipe for a student ministry leader.
Fearless Retreats
The theme for both the junior high and high school retreats was “Fearless” and the kids studied the book of Daniel, going into exile, the fiery furnace, and the lion’s den. Miriah and the other adult and student leaders related it to the teens by engaging in conversations about how to seek God in those moments when we’re not in control.

The format of the retreats included time to ski, play board games and one study session per day that included praise music followed by small groups broken out by gender and grade to allow the kids to have intentional conversations with the adult leaders. “We made space where we could openly talk about God with no time constraints. One of my favorite parts is when you’re on a chairlift. You have to talk! You can ask questions and be super intentional and the kids are more open to talking,” says Miriah.
The fact that the high school group was smaller this year, really turned out to be a positive experience for everyone. The leaders were able to dig into the kids’ personalities more and this created a stronger bond among the whole high school group, regardless of gender.

“Student retreats are a time to get into a little change of pace and find a new lane,” reflects Miriah. When you’re with anybody for an extended period of time; sleeping, eating, playing games, you get to know them at a whole different level.”
What’s Next for MLC's Student Ministry?
Looking ahead, teens will have the chance to sign up for some fabulous summer opportunities. Junior high students can go to Big Canyon Ranch for a four-day summer camp experience. Located just outside of Park City, but a world away, Big Canyon allows students to get involved in outside fun, worship, a message, and intentional fellowship. Registration information for the junior high Big Canyon Ranch summer camp experience will be available on Mountain Life’s Students webpage in the coming weeks.

Alternatively, high school students can attend Challenge, a biennial national youth gathering in Kansas City, Missouri. Challenge blends the aspects of a conference with a mission trip and camp to create an environment that moves beyond traditional youth conferences to build missional momentum. Go to the MLC Students webpage for details and to register for Challenge.
For the remainder of the school year, the junior high and high schoolers will be learning about the life of David and will finish the semester with the book of James. Miriah and the leaders also discuss real-life challenges with the kids such as the dark side of social media, gossip and judgment, and time management. She asks for prayers, for herself and the other adult leaders, as they go into their next season to help sustain the relationships that the students are building with Christ.

“I have to give a shout out to the adult leaders who have been serving with me this whole time,” says Miriah. “This ministry is about teamwork. I’m just the face of Mountain Life’s Student Ministry. There’s a lot more that goes into it.”
By Liz Yokubison
Liz Yokubison is a freelance writer and author. You can follow her on her website, www.lizyokubison.com.

1 Comment


Jill Story - February 18th, 2022 at 7:27am

Thank you Miriah for taking on this important role at MLC! You are a gift from God. And thank you to the other adult leaders who are helping Miriah demonstrate the love of Jesus to our youth.