What Is the Heartland Youth Encounter?

specifically suited to building up youth groups.
  • Week spent building intentional Christian community within your youth group

  • Engaging speakers and worship services

  • High energy camp activities like horse rides, archery, swimming, and rock climbing

  • Awesome large group rec, including night games

  • Small group Bible studies led by our trained staff

We believe that the Heartland Youth Encounter is specifically suited to building up youth groups. By coming to a place set apart for the Lord, youth leave their technology, release the social pressures to fit in, and let down their walls allowing meaningful relationships to grow.

Also, we love when we hear our church leaders comment about how they didn’t have to plan Bible studies and could just connect with their youth.

How We are different

A place where church friends become church family.
  • Centrally located in the Midwest making travel simple and easy.

  • Open to both middle and high school groups (6th-12th grades), allowing you to bring all your youth to one event. Small group and Bible study will be split based on age group to cater to the unique issues of middle and high school.

  • Open to individuals, if you are excited about the conference but your youth group can't attend don't worry! We will place all campers who come apart from a youth group together to form their own group.

  • Our energetic college-aged staff lead all rec, activities, and Bible studies. Leave the planning to us and build relationships with your youth that can grow through the year!

  • Open to the whole Church, we focus on the central message of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.


Howard Dudley is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Dunn, North Carolina, where he’s served since 2016. A lifelong Presbyterian and native North Carolinian, Howard previously served as a UKirk Campus Minister, first at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA; and then at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS. When he’s not preaching, he’s also a musician, who plays guitar and banjo, and has led music at Montreat Youth Conference and Massanetta Middle School Conferences. He’s married to Meg, who’s the pastor of Bluff Presbyterian Church, and father to two girls, Lindsay (4) and Julia (1).


Dates, Cost and Schedule

Dates: June 21st-26th

Cost: $495 Per youth or adult leader

Reserving Spots for your Youth:

To reserve spots for your youth group, contact Jared at program1@heartlandcenter.org. To reserve 4-9 spots a non-refundable deposit of $250 is required, for 10-20 campers the a non-refundable deposit is $500. *Deposits sent in by churches can be applied to a churches youth or adult leader(s).

Location: Heartland Camps
Parkville, MO

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Youth Encounter Track options

As part of the Heartland Youth Encounter, each camper will have the ability to choose from 5 activity tracks. They will then get to participate in that track, challenging themselves and growing with the same small group all week long.

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  • Leadership - This track in only for those who have completed 10th grade. In this track campers will get to provide input and participate in leading worship, recreation and small group experiences. They will get to help shape the week that they and their fellow campers are experiencing.

  • Service - This track will focus on serving the Parkville and Greater Kansas City community. Throughout the week campers will go out to different locations to serve the KC metro with integrity, intention and love. They will also spend time hearing the stories of their neighbors and learning about the communities they are serving.

  • Challenge - This track is all about adventure! Spending the week on the rock wall, zip lines, team building challenges and more. Through this they will build a close community of trust and grow by pushing through their perceived limits. They are sent with challenges to seek once they are back home too.

  • Creative - This track is all about using creative gifts (painting, photography, music, drama, etc.) to worship God. Throughout the week campers will engage with the theme in different media while forming deep relationships with youth with similar interests. They will also explore their creativity and experience spiritual practices they can take home with them.



Lodging - The Heartland Youth Encounter will be housed in our retreat-style lodges: Oak Place, Trask House and Pete's Cabin. Youth groups will be housed together with boys and girls sleeping in different rooms. All of our buildings are ADA. Please contact Jared Briscoe at 816-891-1078 or email program1@heartlandcenter.org for special accommodations.

Arrival - Registration begins at 4:00 pm on Sunday. We ask that any adult leaders come at 3:00 pm for an orientation. For out of town participants, our facilities and staff can accommodate your youth during the orientation time. After the meeting you will have an opportunity to move into your housing for the week and explore camp before dinner at 6:00 pm. 

Departure - The Heartland Youth Encounter will end Friday morning after breakfast and a sending worship.

Adult Volunteers - We ask that each youth group provide one adult volunteer per 7 youth of a given gender (e.g. if a group brings 10 girls and 5 boys we will ask them to provide 2 female leaders and 1 male leader). Having adult leaders is one of the most important parts of this ministry. The adult leaders have the opportunity to experience camp with their youth, build relationships through activities and worships, then take those relationships back to their home churches.