Seattle district-wide youth retreat touches lives
By Hailey Swearingen
Photos by Mary Recla and Brian Martin

IDEAS_SUMYT2June of 2014 was the beginning of an incredible journey for me. For the past months, I had the honor of being the 2015 SUMYT team’s vice president, a role I hold very dearly. SUMYT stands for the Seattle United Methodist Youth Team and we represent the United Methodist youth of the Seattle District.

For over 50 years this team has put on a retreat (cleverly named SUMYT) for everyone between 6th and 12th grade. This year the team is proud to announce our retreat sold out in only 29 days! Selling out so fast is bittersweet. It is so hard to tell youth and churches alike that we just don’t have room for them this year, especially because so many of these people would have been first time attendees.

My first SUMYT retreat was in 2009, my 6th grade year. That was back when the SUMYT store was allowed to sell energy drinks, and of course what sixth grader is going to turn down their first 32 ounce energy drink? Needless to say, I was up all night bouncing off the walls and sick the next day. I didn’t return to the retreat until I joined the team as a freshman in high school. It has been an honor to watch our retreat grow and flourish, and I’ve been so lucky to be a part of this team. Now, as a senior, I get to choose what we sell at the store!

SUMYT has worked hard to put on a retreat that is equal parts fun and spiritual. Often times it is a shock to go back to “real life” after being in an uplifting environment such as this retreat. Everyone genuinely cares about each other. It doesn’t matter if this is your first or sixth time attending; you are always welcomed with opened arms. It is a place where old friends reunite, and where lifelong friendships are built. SUMYT is where loud off-key singing and bad dancing are basically a requirement, where small groups are safe places to question and discuss, and where tearful goodbyes are followed up with awkward sightings of each other on the ferry home. The SUMYT retreat has touched the lives of so many, and I am delighted to share it with all who will come.

Hailey Swearingen is a senior and attends Aldersgate UMC (Bellevue, Wash.).

RESOURCES_lifechoicesLife Choices: Trusting God in Life’s Decisions & Challenges (D1026)
This DVD curriculum uses scenes from the movie, “To Save A Life” by New Song Pictures (produced in 2010), to reach teens and illustrate faith in the midst of real-life struggles. Critical issues such as peer pressure, sex, family conflict and lukewarm faith are addressed from an evangelical faith perspective. The DVD and study guide combine daily Bible studies with discussion questions for weekly group sessions, helping teens develop a habit of Bible Study and prayer. The “To Save A Life” movie was described by the Los Angeles times as “…appealing, poignant, and inspiring.” Contact Ian McKnight for more information on this resource: • Visit • Facebook:

RESOURCES_MeTheMeIWantToBeThe Me I Want To Be (Teen Edition) (D4544)
Pastor and author, John Ortberg, presents this five session video-based study to help teens live their lives in the best way possible — in God’s way. Through video discussions, questions and group exercises that deal with real issues teens face, you will discover something remarkable — the “me” you are meant to be — confident, honest and fully alive inside. The five sessions include:

-Discovering the Spirit
-Renewing My Mind
-Redeeming My Time
-Deepening My Relationships
-Transforming My Experiences

• Contact Ian McKnight for more information on this resource: • Visit • Facebook:


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