Grassroots movements are not as common as people may think and they are often forgotten after the first flush of success or failure. SYLC is grassroots movement of the best and most rare kind. Since 1985 it took off, has flown for over 29 years, has under-gone internal and external changes, has moved forward and backward but persists! SYLC has formed over 3.000 young people to leadership and Salesian spirituality. So, just what is this thing called SYLC with its nine lives and many faces?
SYLC began with a group of young adults meeting at their parish with big hopes for a rapidly growing youth ministry and something that could happen beyond the confines of the parish. These same players intersected with Fr. Joe Boenzi, SDB and the dynamic community of candidates at De Sales Hall. Soon they were planning many things together from study sessions in theology to ongoing formation for interested youth ministers at the parish. From this bubbling enthusiasm was hatched the idea of expanding the local training for their summer day camp to a province wide event that would prepare young adults and teens for summer ministries in all the summer programs. From the start, this event was more than a hands-on-how-to training session in day or resident camp skills. It was and remains, a gathering of young people to grow in their faith, widen their network, and prepare not merely for summer ministries, but for the life-long venture of youth serving youth! Many vocations and careers have been launched on the shores of SYLC.
SYLC stands for Salesian Youth Leadership Conference/Camp. Even in the earliest years, it became the event for the summer for many young people and their youth ministries. It has offered opportunities Summer after summer for teens to become leaders, then to move into the many roles and dimensions of animation. It has never lost its connection with those grassroots and remains a movement that seems unstoppable.
The secret ingredient has always been the empowering and animating of young people to be the visionaries and the missionaries to their peers and the church in their worlds. It has been and remains one of the most authentic experiences of a Salesian oratory in the classic sense weaving together prayer and fun, creativity and hard work, building hearts and minds to enlist all concerned in the powerful task of evangelization. Long live SYLC! Keep growing and moving! Reach out as far and wide as you can, but encouragement, always believing – like Don Bosco – that this is where Christ is encountered. A youthful heart on fire is the sanctified home for god’s powerful grace and transformation is always expected!