Briercrest Celebrates 60th Youth Quake Event with the Highest Attendance in 20 Years!
The History of Youth Quake
In the early 1960s, Henry Unrau had an idea that would change the lives of countless teenagers in Canada. As the Public Relations Director at Briercrest Bible Institute, Unrau was a dynamic recruiter and evangelist, always thinking of innovative ways to reach young people with the message of the Gospel.
His brainchild was a weekend retreat in Caronport, Saskatchewan, combining intensive activity and spiritual ministry. The event, then named the Midwest Youth Retreat, took place in November of 1963. With high hopes for 50 attendees, the event far exceeded expectations, drawing an astonishing crowd of 500 youth.
From there, the event grew in popularity and became an annual tradition held on the last weekend in February. In 1972, the name was changed to "Youth Quake," which emerged from that year's earthquake theme. The early Youth Quake (YQ) attendees heard the testimonies of personalities such as Col. James Irwin (astronaut), Jim Hunter (skier), as well as Paul Henderson and Jean Pronovost (hockey stars).
The tradition of holding YQ on the last weekend of February had continued since 1965 until the COVID-19 pandemic prompted innovations and adaptations. In 2021, organizers hosted YQatHome online. Kait Brennan (Director of Youth Quake) was excited at the success of the online event. “We were encouraged to see hundreds more groups registered to participate in this free online package,” said Brennan. “Based on a survey of registrants, we estimate that thousands more youth were reached through YQatHome [in 2021]!”
In 2022, the Youth Quake team decided to host YQatHome in February, plus create two in-person events broken into groups according to age. Each group was hosted on separate weekends. Senior high school students gathered at Briercrest from April 29th to May 1st, with junior high students meeting on May 6th and 7th. All three events were highly successful and well-attended, showcasing the enduring impact of Unrau's original vision for an event that would empower and inspire Canadian youth.
Read more about the decision to move YQ to May here:
Party with a Purpose
True to the intentions of the original event, Youth Quake today exists to create life-changing experiences for youth and youth influencers by sharing the power of the Gospel through retreats, teaching, worship, and intentional community.
YQ is a two to three-day Christian youth retreat where young people from across Western Canada come together to worship and learn about God. YQ events feature engaging speakers, interactive activities, informative workshops, live worship bands, and group discussions. Youth Quake attendees are encouraged to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ and build meaningful relationships with other Christian community members.
The events are focused on church youth groups. During the in-person events, the youth groups stay in the dorms, eat in the dining hall, and do intentional small group time. The virtual series, YQatHome, is designed to help youth pastors and volunteers work through Biblical teaching, difficult questions, and incredible worship with their group in the comfort of their home location. Youth Quake strives to provide unforgettable shared experiences that bring people together and deepen relationships through the power of the Gospel.
There are five pillars that YQ stands on:
- Help students understand how to follow Jesus with their whole lives.
- Give opportunities to grow deeper in relationships with Christian friends and leaders.
- Throw down safe, clean events that students will never forget.
- Partner with youth ministries, camps, and other organizations engaging with students year-round.
- Connect students to what God is doing year-round at Briercrest.
Keynote speakers unpacked this year's Psalm 23 theme.
The theme of all three of this year's YQ events was Psalm 23 and The Good Shepherd. Here is a summary from our Director of YQ:
In Psalm 23, we read of a good shepherd who guides, protects, and provides for His sheep. All through the Psalm, the Shepherd does all that the sheep need. He takes them to green pastures with water nearby so they can eat, drink, and rest comfortably while He watches closely over them. His rod and staff guide them along the right path, and if the path takes them through dark valleys, the Good Shepherd uses them to protect His sheep.
The sheep in the psalm represent us, and the Good Shepherd is God—guiding, protecting, and providing for us through Jesus Christ. In Him, we can find safety, security, and peace. We truly lack nothing in the arms of the Good Shepherd, in the arms of the Father.
How differently would we see everything in our lives if we saw them as a blessing from the Good Shepherd?
At YQ23, our prayer was to lead teenagers to discover all the Father has done to guide, protect, and provide for His people through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. The Father is the Good Shepherd, and we are His sheep. This generation is in desperate need of the Good Shepherd.
May God use us to lead them home.
Missed out on this year's speakers? Click on the links below to listen now:
God met with the attendees.
Here is what some of the students told the volunteers and staff about their experience at YQ:
That God really wants me to get baptized and not be scared to share my testimony.
God taught me to take a lead in teaching others about Him and that life has challenges, but Jesus is with us the whole time.
To fully surrender my life in His hands to shape and mould. To trust Him as my Shepherd. To allow Him to fill my cup that overflows onto those around me.
Loving Jesus doesn't make life easy, but He is our Shepherd and walks through the hard times with us.
Everyone had loads of fun!
During a typical YQ weekend, attendees can engage in various interactive activities such as laser tag, gaming tournaments, bubble soccer, and pickleball. For those seeking a challenge, there are activities like wall climbing, horseback riding, and pedal carts. Between all the high-energy fun, there are also opportunities to participate in workshops, enjoy small group time, attend main sessions, and participate in worship services.
Students won scholarships.
One very popular session during the senior high weekend is a scholarship giveaway. This year, six scholarships (valued at $13,904) are given to recipients on stage in a celebration with the entire crowd. On the Senior High Retreat weekend, 23 attendees submitted a scholarship form. Of these 23, nine were new applicants to Briercrest College, and 14 had already applied. Six of the 23 received an on-stage scholarship. The other 17 will receive the $500 award when they enroll, thanks to generous donors who enabled us to offer $500 bursaries (total value of $10,000) to anyone who applies to Briercrest College or Christian Academy while at YQ.
$500 bursaries are also awarded at our Experience Briercrest on-campus events.
God touched the lives of volunteers and youth leaders.
Youth Quake isn't just for the students. The adults attending participate in many activities, whether as parent chaperones or youth leaders with a group. Often, the adults get as much out of YQ as the students do.
One parent said,
From the very first session, God restored my soul. It was the highlight of my year. I needed the input, worship, and encouragement so much. To top it off, [my] son won the $5000 scholarship, and I can't think of a better environment for him to study than at Briercrest.
She goes on to say that God meeting with her at YQ was timely due to a cancer diagnosis in her family. She felt truly blessed by the event and expressed gratitude to the organizers.
Youth leaders can take in the sessions with the students, as well as attend a session created just for youth leaders:
Everyone worshiped God together.
For the Senior High Retreat, SEU Worship led the crowd in a powerful time with God. SEU Worship is a collaboration between the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. It reflects the worship movement happening during weekly chapels. Our sound is inspired by emerging adults' pop music and culture, and our writers aim to craft prophetic and theologically responsible lyrics.
Briercrest Worship led the Junior High Retreat in worship. The band is made up of current Briercrest College students typically enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts Worship Arts degree program.
God moved to the very end of the final weekend:
For both retreats, attendees had an opportunity to respond to the message by making commitments or renewing existing commitments to Jesus Christ. AJ Crocker, VP of External Relations, later shared with the staff and faculty a special moment that happened as the junior YQ weekend was coming to a close:
As many of you were tearing down and starting to clean up, we saw dozens of kids raise their hands to receive Jesus as their Saviour for the first time. It was an incredible sight to see. Our speaker, Colin Lancelot, then gave the others the opportunity to consider rededicating their lives and commit to following the Good Shepherd with their whole life. Even more, hands went up. It was a calm, reflective moment with dozens and dozens of kids committing to follow our Lord at such a key time in their lives.
Attendance and Demographics
Both Youth Quake 2023 in-person events were a resounding success, with attendance numbers breaking the 20-year record. The event drew a significantly larger audience than in previous years, with attendees from Western Canada. The event organizers are thrilled with the turnout and are excited to have provided an unforgettable experience for all those who attended.
Possible reasons for changes in attendance and demographics:
It has been almost 20 years since we have had that many people attend YQ. When you consider the risk [of shutting down forever] to events like this coming out of Covid and the risk of moving the event to May and adding a second retreat, there was a lot of wondering if any of these moves would work. We felt the Lord leading us into this risky space, and we are floored with what the Lord has done over these past two years to provide a bright future for the event. To know that Youth Quake has come back stronger after Covid than it was beforehand is a testament to God's hand on this place and the work we have given our lives to. —AJ Crocker
Youth Quake 2023 was another year full of incredible memories. Hundreds of students experienced an encounter with God and powerful worship and had the opportunity to make new friends while engaging in meaningful activities that challenged them spiritually. The weekend was filled with growth, fellowship, and transformation, which will impact these young lives for a long time.
YQ is an important event for Christian youth as it provides a safe and secure environment where they can come together to learn about God, build relationships with other young Christians, and explore their faith in new ways. It also allows them to experience the love of Christ through dynamic worship and engaging activities that help foster spiritual growth. This year's Youth Quake was filled with so much joy and excitement, and it is our hope that the youth who attended will carry this experience with them for years to come.
We invite you to join us at Youth Quake 2024!
The dates will be as follows:
- Senior High Retreat - Friday, April 26 - Sunday, April 28, 2024
- Junior High Retreat - Friday, May 10 - Saturday, May 11, 2024
Come be a part of the amazing atmosphere as we explore God's Word together, learn more about the Christian faith, make new friends, and have a great time! We look forward to seeing you there!
Bookmark this link to make sure you don't miss updates and announcements: youthquake.ca