By Joy Pedrow, alumna of Miller Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, October 31, 2014
“I don’t ever want to leave. There is so much love here, so much joy. These two weeks helped me decide who Joy Pedrow is.” I wrote this in my journal during the last week of SYI. At SYI, I experienced Jesus, love, friendship, and acceptance.
For five summers before I attended SYI, I went to church camp. Each summer camp impacted my life tremendously, but the camps were only one week long. The two weeks I spent at SYI impacted my life more than all the weeks at church camp combined. I believe this is because two weeks in “SYI-time” seems like a whole month. In that time frame, growth can happen in big ways!
SYI impacted me by helping form my identity.
During SYI, I wrote, “Joy Pedrow: is a girl who loves God, sins a lot but is forgiven, wants to go into ministry, loves everyone, sees beauty in everyone, wants to help others find God, and wants to be a Christian in college.”
Learning this before going into college was huge. At SYI, I experienced a Christian community that I had never experienced before, and because of this I knew going into college I would join a Christian ministry. Through the SYI community, I also learned how to have fun without worrying about what others thought of me.
One night at SYI, I began to realize this as I dressed up in a Hawaiian shirt and danced the night away. This dance was different than any dance I had ever experienced, and here is why:
In high school, dances are a big deal. For any girl, finding a date, the perfect dress, shoes to match, and getting hair and nails done, could be stressful. This whole process could take weeks.
At SYI, I was told we were having a luau themed dance. This dance was different than any other dance I had experienced.
We walked into the room and there was luau themed decorations everywhere, loud music playing, and students standing around. Soon, all the staff entered dressed as old people! One RA had an inflatable walker and another dyed her hair grey, it was hysterical. The staff got everyone dancing in minutes, and turned the dance into one of the most fun nights of my life. That was the first dance I did not worry about anything. I wasn’t worried about gaining other’s approval, I let loose and let Joy Pedrow come out and dance.