Orchard's Blog: Stories, News & Events

Caravan17 & Rocky Mountain High


In 1985, eight Cedar Falls students set out on Cedar Falls’ very first Caravan. Since then, thousands of students and adult volunteers have traveled to destinations including New York City, Toronto, Atlanta, and the Great Lakes.

This year, Caravan17 joined Rocky Mountain High; a youth conference held every three years at the YMCA camp in Estes Park, Colorado by the Synod of the Heartland Reformed Churches. A group of 111 students and 24 leaders departed from Orchard Hill on July 21 to join 3,200 other students from across the Midwest.

“Hearts were touched. Lives were forever changed,” said Elliot Tension, BIGhouse Ministry Leader. “ High School students encountered and experienced Jesus and we could not of done it without all of your prayers and support.”

Rocky Mountain High is a 4 day youth conference featuring guest speakers, energizing worship, small groups and fun activities during the day. After Rocky Mountain High, Caravan17 stayed in at the YMCA Camp through Thursday taking the time to debrief what they experience at the conference. The night sessions included acoustic worship and leader testimonies.

Last Friday, Caravan17 left for Denver where the closing session was at Southeast Christian Church. They spent Saturday at a Waterpark or shopping before heading for home, traveling through the night to arrive for the return service last Sunday at Nazareth Lutheran Church.

“Jesus was in the business of changing lives this week,” continued Tensen. “After the trip, I received this text from a student: This trip was life changing for me and everyone around me. Before the trip I was in a low point in my faith but after being pressured into going on caravan, my faith has never been stronger and I feel refreshed."

Find out more about high school ministry opportunities at CedarValleyStudents.org/bighouse or check out pictures from the trip on Instagram by following @bighousecf.

Orchard Hill Family Camping Trip


An affordable and fun family vacation and an opportunity to belong in community was the goal of the trip. With that idea in mind, the Orchard Hill North: Family Camping Trip was planned.

From July 9 through the 14th, around 120 people enjoyed a week at Baker State Park in Minnesota. Baker Park campground is situated on beautiful Lake Independence. “Our group took up half of one loop at Baker Park,” commented Karla Chestnut, trip organizer. “All age ages were represented, from retired couples in their 70’s to young families. We had 14 kids under 4 on the trip as well as a group of teenagers.”

Curt and Brenda Patterson prepared and provided all of the meals using Orchard Hill’s Chuchwagon. With the help of families, they cooked a hot breakfast and supper and everyone packed sack lunches after breakfast.

After breakfast the kids played while the adults participated in small group time. Then families had free time until supper. Many swam, fished, kayaked, or took a day trip into Minneapolis to visit the zoo or the mall. After dinner there was kid-friendly worship and a night session followed by a campfire, cards and conversation.

The theme of the week was B.L.E.S.S., a way of being with people. B is for  Begin with Prayer. L is for Listening with care, E is for eating together, S is for serving humbly with love, when you listen to people and you eat with them, they teach you how to love them and you will know how to serve them. The final S is for share your story.  When you live the B.L.E.S.S. way you will hear people’s stories and you will be able to share your story, including how you have encountered Jesus along the way.  “Many people connected with this as we had a chance to share many meals together,” continued Karla.

“We had such a great week! Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen!” Jamie Recker shared via Facebook. Melissia Johnson echoed, “Had such a fantastic week with all of you.”

The next family camping trip is being planned for the summer of 2019. Stay tuned for details or contact Karla Chestnut at kchestnut@orchardhillchurch.org.

Cedar Falls

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319.266.9796 | email