A frequent question for high school graduates is, “So, what are you doing next?” and from there excitement, as well as anxieties, can start to appear as their answer is formed. What are college classes like? What am I going to major in? What will it be like to still live at home? On and on thoughts of excitement and worry are present for a lot of young adults as they transition away from high school, and into a new setting. LAUNCH, an event for recent high school graduates, led by Pastor Dave Delaney, and his summer intern, Samantha DiBiaso, works to answer these questions and focuses on building up a healthy time of transition from high school to college and beyond.
Held on the campus of Roanoke College in Salem from July 7-11, LAUNCH helps participants take stock of where their faith life has led them so far and provides opportunities to engage in discussion on matters of faith, life, and vocation that participants are likely to face as they transition into a new life stage. It also continues to equip these young adults to serve the church out in the world following the major youth events they have attended over the years.
9 high school graduates gathered for LAUNCH this year to learn and discuss with speakers from across the Synod matters of faith, lifestyle, and vocational challenges and choices. This year’s speaker lineup featured current students and recent college graduates who grew up through Synod Youth events, The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick, Assistant to the Bishop, Chaplain Chris Bowen of Roanoke College, as well as several others who came to share their knowledge and experiences. From these visiting speakers, the LAUNCH participants got a chance to closely examine and ask questions about diversity, how to discern vocation and why it matters, how to define and practice their own self-care, the importance of establishing a work-life balance, what the transition to college is like, and so much more.
There was tons of fun to be had at LAUNCH as the group went bowling together, and watched a handful of favorite movies over the five-day event, but there was also plenty of time taken for quiet reflection as well. These chances for independent reflection and study were scattered throughout each day, and are a unique component of LAUNCH that isn’t often a feature of other youth events. These opportunities allowed attendees to consider the big conversations and experiences they had together that made an impact on the major life transitions they’ll be making this fall.
LAUNCH participants also had the opportunity this past week to reconnect with friends made at previous Synod youth events, as well as to take time for themselves for intentional evaluation on what they want their future experiences to be like. All LAUNCH participants were invited to stay through the weekend and attend Power in the Spirit, serving as another way to connect and make the transition from youth to adult in our synod.