A Review of ASCENT 2023

If you have been a youth worker for more than a few years you know what it takes to put on an event and then what comes afterwards, the evaluation.  Was it good, did it meet its purpose, and what needs to change for next year?  For those who have annual events, this is a crucial step you won’t want to miss, but we so often move on to the next event this gets skipped.  So we thought would do a few quick thoughts on some of the elements everyone experienced at ASCENT 2023, instead of keeping them private we decided to share them with everyone.  We thought we would be transparent in our evaluation.

If you have your own thoughts or even observations that disagree with us, feel free to email info@usmbnextgen.com and we would love to add them to our list!


  • The purpose of ASCENT is to create a mountain-top experience of spiritual and community growth for everyone that they come back changed.  We think that purpose was accomplished.
  • We’re so grateful for our speaker and band who was used by God.  Both used their skills and experiences to add to the sessions.
  • Seeing so many students stand on their chairs the last session because they wanted to be used by God was inspiring.  And having 4 students accept Christ the night before was all worth it!
  • The weather, being in the mid 70’s all week, really made a difference and make everything more enjoyable.
  • Name tags were used in the future session but hardly anyone used them after that.  It was a good interactive activity but not needed.
  • The QR boards were very helpful for people, we will add interactive tracks and workshops in the future.
  • So grateful for our ministry partners with their donations, planning, and even the teaching and serving they brought.
  • The camp offered more activities for free time than ever before.  Having a sign-up on the wall helped keep things organized but we will need to provide pictures and a brief description of each one, many of the students didn’t know what some of them were.
  • Housing was a struggle trying to fit everyone into appropriate and decent quality rooms.  This will be one of our highest priorities for next year.  Things were tight this year.
  • Schedule, by far the most unique schedule due to mornings being open for activities and white water rafting, we still think it was our strongest schedule yet with very few confusing parts.  It keeps things moving by not having too long of free time in any one day.
  • Some clarity on how we do registration and background checks for adults is needed.  That can be improved with how-to videos and more.
  • An element we really want to add more of next year having more students on stage, leading, praying, and even teaching, a high priority for next year.

Returning Elements:

  • J-time, our morning devotionals, was another hit, and very enjoyable seeing students step up in their faith and leadership.
  • Having coffee and lemonade was one of the most popular elements with us giving away over 880 cups of cold brew and lemonade.
  • Having more “all-play” interactive pre-session games seem to keep students motivated and mixing up.  With all the last-minute changes and planning that went into them, we are happy with the results.  Several games were dropped minutes before due to supply issues.
  • Our seven workshops went over well dealing with deconstruction, mission work, and social media.  We still need to find a better location than on top of a hill but it works.  Maybe we try something different next year.  We need to have printed workshop lists and locations instead of just digital not everyone could see them on their phones.
  • We moved our Talent Show to the afternoon to free up those evenings for more small group time with individual churches.  By having it in the afternoon it didn’t seem to affect the excitement and entertainment factor a bit.  And the hosts were great!
  • The BE polo-riad board was a huge hit with over 100+ photos added with some pretty funny poses.
  • Missions and Worship Night had some great stories and ending with worshiping our God is always a great way to end camp.
  • Students seem to respond well to our yellow BE-themed t-shirts.  
  • Interactive Tracks seem to be better enjoyed with cooler weather with the most popular ones being hiking and painting.  New or different tracks will need to be added for next year.
  • We added one more break-out time with individual churches this year that seems to go over well.  Even though our original plan of fire pits didn’t work out due to a burn ban, we still want to have that element in the future.

New Elements:

  • Offering water bottles and then 5-gallon jugs instead of individual disposable water bottles saved us money and provided more water at the same time.
  • The Mud Pit Challenge was fun to watch but not as enjoyable to participate in, there was more water than mud.
  • Having white water rafting every other year seems to work well.  By having the river run so fast the rafters were back before lunch and many had a good time!
  • The Exchange Mini Session – where we went over Mormonism, Catholicism, and Christianity in an open Q and A setting.  Our presenters did a great job of sharing the main points and differences.  They were respectful and clear.  It went about 1.5 hours in length but most people seem to be engaged and had tons of questions sent in.  We could have gone even longer if we had time.  Maybe next year we can discuss just one topic instead of two.
  • Having Rally Games moved to a late-nighter actually brought more competition and fun.  It was still mass chaos but smaller teams worked better than larger ones.  It was hard to see without much light and confusing about where each group goes.  That needs to be addressed in the future.
  • Our Silent Disco for our opening late-nighter started ASCENT off right.  It provided great pictures, good fun, and some laughter hearing everyone sing at the top of their lungs without music.  For those people who love music, it was a highlight.

As always we are grateful for all the prayers, plans, and preparation that went into ASCENT.  Our leadership team could never do it alone.  If you have any thoughts to add or disagree with send us an email!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *