Shaping Tomorrow’s Leaders Today 

Submitted by tadams on Mon, 12/18/2023

By Eugenia Johnson-Smith 

Christian Appalachian Project’s (CAP) Youth Empowerment Services invests in Appalachian youth with practical skills to help them embrace their leadership potential. At their annual combined teen leadership retreat, youth from Camp AJ and Camp Shawnee united to learn how they can impact the next generation.  

“We wanted to reinforce with each of them that kindness and humility matter,” said Caitlin Speigle, manager of CAP’s YES program in Johnson, Martin, and Floyd Counties. “The retreat is a great opportunity to instill in them a love for service so that we share Christ’s love for others. This ties back-to-back to CAP's mission of building hope, transforming lives, and sharing Christ's love through service in Appalachia.” 

Each year YES focuses on one of the five pillars mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (NIV) The verse guides the program’s mission in serving Appalachian teens through in-school services, summer camps, and a Teen Leadership initiative. Nearly 40 teens participated in this year’s joint retreat. 

Teen Leadership offers a safe environment for teens to try new things, learn, reflect, and overcome obstacles. This includes partnering with various CAP programs for service projects, assisting with community events, and attending events like the retreat that focus on different aspects of leadership. At this year’s retreat, the participated in job interview workshops, learned skills in self-management, and made Christmas cards for seniors in CAP's Elderly Services program. 

"Several of these teens have grown up through our program in our summer camps and in-school services,” said Pat Griffith, assistant director of YES. “It's exciting to see them together and continuing to grow in their leadership abilities. One day they will become camp counselors and leaders in other roles at school or in their communities." 

The retreat was held the weekend before Thanksgiving. YES staff surprised the teens with a holiday dinner, complete with a juicy turkey, tender ham, traditional sides, warm homemade apple cider, and large trays of homemade pie and cobbler. 

“Some of the teens may not be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner at home,” said Hannah Thomas, Teen Empowerment Advocate of YES for Rockcastle, Jackson, and McCreary Counties. “We are excited to be able to share a meal like this with them and make special memories around the holidays.” 

The generosity and commitment of CAP supporters make this work possible. "We couldn't do this work without our donors, our partners, our volunteers, and our prayer warriors,” Speigle said. “We are so thankful for everyone who help make our mission possible." 

Prayer Requests

Our faith calls us and sustains us— that's why Christian Appalachian Project gathers for chapel each day. If you or a loved one are in need of prayers, please let us know and we will lift up your request.


Every Penny Counts

88.5% of donations go directly to families in need.