Monday, July 11, 2011

The Salvation Army International Youth Congress 1985

Twenty-six years ago this month, I was blessed to be a part of an amazing trip from Spokane, Washington to Macomb, Illinois, home of Western Illinois University. As a part of the local youth group from The Salvation Army Corps (church), I had been saving money and participating in fundraisers for nearly a year in order to save up to attend the International Youth Congress. According to Wikipedia, it was "...the first worldwide Salvation Army youth gathering since 1950 and the first international Salvation Army conference to be held outside the United Kingdom." It commemorated the International Youth Year, which was proclaimed by the United Nations on January 1st, 1985.

Beyond the fact that we would be seeing the General of The Salvation Army, as well as other renown Christian leaders, mingling with Salvation Army youth from around the world, and attending Bible studies, plays, fireworks and laser shows to celebrate this event, the Spokane delegation was--unlike many of the youth attending who arrived by plane--taking a cross-country road trip halfway across the United States. Many of our group had never been out of the Northwest, further east than Western Montana. In sixteen days, we would travel through twelve states, visit several major U.S. cities, a national park, two national memorials, a national monument, a theme park, a cave, and hot springs, as well as pass a forest fire, go through a lightning storm, and endure the Midwest's heat and humidity. And...we had the time of our life!

Chaperoned by five married couples, we fifteen youth (including one young man from Great Falls, Montana) set out on 12 July 1985. One of the young ladies of the group was not able to travel to the Congress with us due to family plans; instead she flew to St. Louis, where we picked her up and she joined in the rest of our adventures.Traveling in two large vans and accompanied by one of the couples in their RV (dubbed "The OlsenMobile"), we often rode through the night, stopping here and there to sleep at a Salvation Army camp...or to pitch our tents in Yellowstone Park on the way home.

Join me over the next two-and-a-half-weeks as I transcribe entries from my diary kept along the way and share photos that I serendipitously had digitized just this past week, not realizing the incredible timing. If you are one of my fellow travelers, I hope you will post your comments and your own memories by clicking on the "# comments" link at the bottom of each of these posts (# will be replaced by a number representing however many comments will already be published). You can also share these posts with others by clicking on the "Email Post" icon at the bottom of each post, which looks like an envelope with an arrow.

I'm looking forward to this walk down memory lane, and hope you enjoy it as well, whether or not you were a part of that group or just a current reader of my blog.


Anonymous said...

I attended as well, with the Youth from Kingston Citadel (Ontario, Canada). Very powerful, remember it well.
Last July (2010) my son had the awesome opportunity to attend the International Youth Convention in Sweden!
Definitely worth attending these kinds of events.
Thanks for you article.
God Bless, Anne Johnston

Miriam Robbins said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Anne. I still have to finish writing about our adventures! :-)

Denny said...

I also attended this congress as well. My sister who is now a Lt. Colonel in the Salvation Army and a Divisional Commander, and I both were with the group of young people from the Midland Division. I am still a member in Granite City, IL, and the Office Manager there.

Miriam Robbins said...

Thanks for stopping by, Denny! I have heard from many people from around the globe who attended this Congress. What an adventure it was!

Unknown said...

I attended from Cleveland, Ohio, West park Corp. Anybody remember how hot it was? I bought a six pack of Coke Bottles with the International Youth Event printed on it. My friends and I drank them, on the way into town to look around. Some guy was buying the unopened bottles for $10.00 a bottle! My brother has the only unopened one, and he has been offered up to $60.00 for it. The event was an awesome life altering thing for me, as I was an inner city kid thinking about joining a gang.

Miriam Robbins said...

Thanks for sharing! I definitely remember those Coke bottles! Our corps saved a six pack. I wonder where they are today?