Christ in Youth fosters more than just spiritual growth

By Gus Bode

For 14 years, Lana Campbell has helped and watched as the Christ In Youth conference in Carbondale grew from one single week event of several hundred students to the three single week functions it is now.

Campbell, the conference coordinator for the Division of Continuing Education, said CIY is attended by several thousand students each summer and aside from its religious purpose, it also serves as a tool for the university.

‘Kids come here from all over the United States,’ she said. ‘We have the opportunity to show them a positive experience while they’re here.’


Christ In Youth is based in Joplin, Mo., and is multifaceted, with several events specializing in different areas. The one held at college campuses across the country is called MOVE, and is geared toward high school students.

John Luzadder, director of CIY: MOVE, said the event has gone on for almost 40 years nationally, with 24 scheduled this summer and nearly 20,000 participants expected to attend.

The event’s purpose is to amplify the call of God in the youth’s lives, he said, and teach them that everybody can make a difference.

While the MOVE event can benefit teenagers seeking to deepen their relationship with God and one another, it also helps the university.

The students and staff stay in the Towers, eat at the Student Center, exercise at the Recreation Center and attend sessions in Shryock Auditorium; all of which brings revenue to SIU, Campbell said. In the past six years, CIY has brought roughly $4 million to campus, not including money they might spend at the bookstore or food they might buy outside of meal times, she said.

‘It’s been interesting, and it’s been fun to watch it grow,’ she said.

However, this year’s number of attendants has been reduced from past years because SIU Arena is unavailable. Shryock Auditorium’s capacity is 1,100, which is 1,000 less than the arena can hold, she said.


Luzadder said while the limited space is inconvenient, it is not a problem.

‘The atmosphere in Shryock is just incredible,’ he said. ‘It does limit us in numbers, but as far as energy and intimacy, you couldn’t ask for a better situation.’

Program coordinator Adam Neldeberg said the students follow a schedule every day. Morning and evening sessions include videos, worship and a speaker. Between these sessions, student participate in electives, individual time for devotions and scripture reading and discussions within their youth groups.

They also have free time each day where they can use the Recreation Center or hang out on campus, he said.

The MOVE event can make a huge difference in a student’s life, Luzadder said. He said it takes people away from the distractions in life and gives them an opportunity to see that they can make a difference no matter what they are doing.

Neldeberg said the Carbondale location was the one he attended as a high school student and he knows the importance of the event.

‘It really changed my perspective on a lot of things when I came here,’ he said. ‘I know how much it can affect a student’s life because of what it did for me.’