Owen Apfel

My friend Owen spent the month of June 2016 serving on the program team at Carolina Point. Owen is full of life and ultimately has two speeds: dancing or sleeping. He, along with three other people, spent the month breaking down high school students’ thick walls. He made them laugh, led them in games during club, declared “big cookies for all!”, led them in dancing, led them in mixers and, well, led them in just about everything that camp has to offer. 

It isn’t unique for someone on program team to lead students in these ways — it’s what we do in Young Life camping. Every session at every camp, a group of people serves as the program team and they are tasked with this job. What makes session one at Carolina Point unique is that Owen has a disability. He’s our first Capernaum alumnus to serve in an on-stage role during a month-long session of camp. 

The first two weeks of camp were our Capernaum weeks, so fear wasn’t in the equation. Instead, campers saw a peer and a role model. He was serving in a way that challenged them to think about how they could be leaders and use their gifts. But the second two weeks were traditional weeks of camp — weeks filled with hundreds of high school kids who often don't interact with individuals who have different abilities. 

Night one came and as always, it was obstacle course time. The guys took off in full force and while the ladies waited for their turn, we had a dance party in classic Young Life fashion. Except on this night, “P90 Owen” led the dance party. He came out on stage and the girls followed his every move. Keeping up with Owen is not for the faint of heart! For 40 minutes these girls moved more than they knew possible. There wasn’t time to be afraid, no time to realize that he had a disability, no time to think about how they would act in school if they ran into him. Just time to dance. 

Night two rolled around and it was time for club. There was singing, swaying, crowd-surfing and then 30 seconds of P90 Owen. He broke through the curtains and the girls went wild! It was ballistic, crazy, screaming, squealing, jumping-up-and-down madness. So obviously, the fellas did the same exact thing, even though they had no idea who P90 Owen was! In the first few minutes of club, Owen was no longer different than the rest of the room; he was the leader of the room. 

Above is a video with the highlights of Owen’s time at camp. It’s impossible to capture the richness of the month. I pray that as you watch this video, you’ll join us in celebrating how amazing it was to have Owen lead high school kids, not just in games, but away from fear and into embracing people who are different from them. It was the gospel in the form of a dance party.