The poor economy did not stop an all-time high number of teens from flocking to the 2009 All-Ontario Youth Convention.
A record 830 teens trekked to Waterloo, Ontario, for four days full of camaraderie, music, and—in a lot of cases—enlightenment.
The theme “Keeping on Track” inspired conventioneers not only to keep on their personal tracks, but also to make sure they show it.
“I realized that with my friends I sometimes try and hide my faith,” said Natanya Heeres, a first-time attendee from Listowel, Ontario. “I need to change that and be more proud of it.”
Melissa Peacock was moved while attending speaker Brett Ullman’s talk. “He was talking about self-injury, and I didn’t think there were so many people doing it,” she said. “He asked how many people knew someone [who purposely injured himself or herself], and almost everyone raised their hand. I realized God cares about everybody—no matter what, he’s always there.”
Rebecca Stieva, from Smithville, Ontario, came to the convention for the third time —but under difficult circumstances. “My father left for military service that week,” she said. “He’s 25 hours away from home now, and I struggled with whether I was mad at God for what [God] was doing to our family, but the prayer sanctuary and counseling were very helpful, and I was able to get somewhere in my personal struggles.”
Among the good-time distractions conventioneers could indulge in were a Wii challenge, a scavenger hunt in a local mall, and various performances, including rising singer/songwriter Christine Evans, illusionist Danny Ray, and worship leader Peder Eide, who drew raves from those in attendance.