The underlying purpose of every Apostolic Faith youth retreat, outing, and overnight excursion is to contribute to the spiritual foundation of the young people who regularly attend our church. Because the safety and well-being of children and youth is a key priority of our organization, there are certain guidelines for such events that must be followed.
Authorization for the event must be obtained from the pastor, youth pastor, or Sunday school superintendent before being announced to the young people. This is necessary to ensure there is no conflict with other church-sponsored events, and to be certain that the proposed outing incurs no risk to the attendees.
Parents/guardians and participating youth must be given full information ahead of time regarding a proposed activity, including the leaders, dates, time, cost, method of transportation, purpose of the scheduled trip or activity, and other details.
The pastor and/or youth ministers generally are responsible for the implementation of youth retreats. Sunday school teachers and Boys’ and Girls’ Club leaders also occasionally host events for their classes or specific groups of young people.
Anyone who assists at events of this nature must be at least eighteen years of age and an authorized worker in the Apostolic Faith organization. This means they must have an approved Worker Application on file in the church office.
A Youth Activity Permission Form must be filled out for every attendee under the age of eighteen at an Apostolic Faith youth event. (Some of our Apostolic Faith churches permit young people over the age of eighteen to attend; these individuals must fill out a Youth Activity Application Form.) These forms must be kept on file at the site while the youth camp is in session. At the conclusion of the event, these records must be retained in the local church office.
A record must be kept of adult staff members who were present at each youth event. This record also should be retained in the local church office.
All drivers providing transportation to and from church-sponsored events in church-owned or privately-owned vehicles must be pre-authorized and meet the driver requirements established by the organization. They are expected to adhere to the following general guidelines (complete directives are provided in the Procedure Guidelines for Transportation Providers):
It is the responsibility of the youth event staff to ensure that all safety precautions (provided in the Volunteer Handbook) are observed. They should be careful to give complete instructions regarding safe use of recreational and other equipment, and maintain proper water safety procedures if water-related activities are part of the event.
Thorough instructions regarding safety rules, curfews, and Apostolic Faith policies must be clearly established at the beginning of the event. It may be helpful to provide written instructions, along with the event schedule and costs, when application forms are distributed. However, the activity director should restate these guidelines verbally at the beginning of the event as well.
The activity leader should carefully review all Youth Activity Permission Forms to determine if any of the children involved in the outing have allergies or medical conditions that could put them at risk. In such cases, the event staff must all be informed.
The supervision guidelines established in the Volunteer Handbook must be followed, even at events off the church premises such as Sunday school class or department outings. Higher risk activities require more supervision; activity leaders must take this into consideration and adjust the leader-to-student ratio accordingly.
Youth event staff members are required to follow the “Two Adult Rule.” This means that no individual child is to be alone with one adult behind closed doors or in a secluded location. One-on-one conversations can be held, but these need to be in full view of other staff members. One adult is allowed to supervise a group of young people (similar to the public school setting).
All communication between representatives of the Apostolic Faith organization (both staff and volunteers) and minors must be both appropriate and discreet.
Staff members are prohibited from engaging in any private sexually-oriented conversations with campers, and are not permitted to share any inappropriate or explicit information about their own personal relationships, dating experiences, or sexual activities with any camp attendee. This prohibition against sexually-oriented conversations does not prohibit group discussions related to morality, proper boundaries in relationships, the importance of maintaining sexual purity, and other similar topics related to young Christian growth and maturity. Nor does it prevent a staff member from answering a direct question regarding one of these topics. However, all such discussions should be cautious, and give no cause for embarrassment or concern if the details were presented to the activity director or to the students’ parents.
The policies in the Volunteer Handbook for guidance and discipline must be strictly observed. Disruptive, disrespectful, or dangerous behavior should be addressed by the activity director, teacher, or adult chaperone in charge. The leader has the right to contact the parent/guardian and send home at the parent/guardians’ expense any young person who refuses to modify problematic behavior.
The Apostolic Faith organization has a physical contact policy which promotes positive, nurturing relationships with the young people in our care while offering protection as well. The guidelines established in the Volunteer Handbook must be followed by anyone serving in church-sponsored activities for children and youth.
We have a zero tolerance for abuse in Apostolic Faith Church programs and activities. Staff members or volunteers who observe any policy violations or suspected abuse, or receive an allegation of abuse must immediately report the matter to their ministry supervisor or the pastor. It is the responsibility of every staff member and volunteer in the Apostolic Faith organization to act in the best interest of children.
A complete description of the Apostolic Faith prevention policies, the steps to take in reporting suspected abuse, and the organization’s response to allegations of abuse are contained in the Volunteer Handbook. Activity leaders, Sunday school teachers, and other workers who participate in youth retreats or overnight outings are expected to have a thorough understand of our policies and guidelines related to child/youth safety, and to abide by them.
All retreat leaders and adult workers who supervise youth outings and overnight excursions should be completely familiar with the Emergency Procedures section of the Volunteer Handbook, and be prepared to implement the proper response in the event of an emergency situation. They will be responsible for the safety of children entrusted to their care.