Tom Shefchunas
May 6th, 2020

Imagine with me for a second…It’s late November.

You are coming back home after an exhilarating few days TOGETHER at the National Youth Workers Convention.

You saw some of your old friends from across the country, and maybe met some new ones from across the globe.

You are exhausted.

You are energized.

You are ready to face what’s next, built upon a foundation unlike anything else.

A foundation of resolve in the present and one of hope for the future.

You unpack. You unwind. And you wake up ready to go to work and to do work.

And, most of all, you can’t wait until you have that shot in the arm again.

You can’t wait until we are TOGETHER again.

And yet, here we are.

Not in an alternate reality, but in reality itself.

It is early May…2020.

And instead of being together in person, many of us are confined to our homes.

So, the question I ask is “What would you do?” 

Specifically, “What would you do if you had a conference planned for thousands of youth workers, not in April 2020, but in November 2020?”

Well, that’s the exact question we at YS have been wrestling with for the last few weeks.  

It’s a good question, isn’t it?

I wish we could offer some certainty.  That’s what we want in times like these!

But, with the variables and the unknowns, We CAN offer some CLARITY.

So, that’s what I want to do right now.

Because the best answer is the clearest answer, we wanted to take a minute to give you as much clarity as we have for how we are going to proceed.  

We are excited to announce that we are in fact moving forward with plans to host that conference planned for thousands of youth workers — the one 6 months from now in November 2020 — and using 4 Guiding Principles to do so.

We will be hopeful.

We will be responsible.

We will be collaborative.

We will be generous.

Principle 1: HOPEFUL

If the last several weeks have taught us anything, it is the importance of physical presence.

We have done well at adjusting, pivoting, and making the most of our circumstances. 

But I know if we all sit back and think about it, we really miss each other! 

We wouldn’t be who we are and do what we do if it was not for the presence, we crave with each other and with others. Personally speaking, I know I would kill for a good, old-fashioned “High 5.”  

That being said, we are hopeful that mid-November will be a perfect time to get “Together” again. Our theme for last year was “Together.” We all celebrated the importance of being in the same room with people who love what we love and do what we do — and were able to do it “Together.”

We are hopeful this will be the case — and we are planning for a live event.

Principle 2: RESPONSIBLE

As we plan for a live event, we are also creating contingency plans. We are doing so mainly so we can 100% guarantee this conference is going to happen.

If you’re stuck at home or we can’t gather together in person, we will be prepared. And not just with a Band-Aid “Plan B,” but will ensure it is still an experience you can’t miss.

Friends, I know this has been a tough season to say the least. This has affected me on every level like I know it has affected you. 

We at YS feel an urgent sense of responsibility to continue encourage, equip and connect the best youth workers on the planet.

That will happen one way or another. You simply MUST take time to replenish from the year we’ve had, while also refuel for the year to come. Don’t miss out.


If there is a silver lining in all of this, it’s that so many amazing people have come together to roll out the red carpet for YOU and make attending the conference as inexpensive as possible. 

The city of Columbus has worked overtime to make its location perfect for us. If you do some quick math on flight costs and hotel costs, it will save each of you more than $100 on average. That is not to mention the AMAZING food options surrounding the venue at all different price points.  

As the hotels and restaurants begin to come online, we will continue to work with them to secure even more ways to make your days in Columbus an amazing value. 

We are thankful for the leadership in Columbus and can’t wait to be a part of writing its comeback story!

Principle 4: GENEROUS

Just like in life itself, we realize the unknowns have put limits on all of us.  But, just because there are unknowns doesn’t mean we can’t work hard to support you in a way we DO know.

In fact, we will be releasing some of the lowest prices in recent NYWC history.  

And that’s not all. We have heard from so many of you already, asking about how you can get involved to help your fellow youth workers.

Now you can. And we need you. Your fellow youth workers need you.

More than ever, the stakes are higher, and the learnings will be crucial for anyone to NOT attend.

We know there are so many youth workers out there who forgo an opportunity each year due to financial constraints, and this is too important a year to let that happen again.  

So, now is your chance to not only be a light to your students through crucial teachings, sessions and resources at NYWC, but to be a light for each other. 

Stay tuned to social media and our email communications for the next week for details on you can get registered and provide help to those who can’t.

Well, friends, here’s where we are.

It’s only May 2020, and we still have a LOT to look forward to the rest of this year.

Keep November 19-22 open on your calendars and keep an eye out for our latest updates.

Perhaps this provides a little more clarity, but even more so, perhaps this provides a lot more hope.

We will continue to make some big announcements in the next week or two. Until then…

Be Hopeful.
Be Responsible.
Be Collaborative.
Be Generous.

Love you all…praying for you every day. See you…soon!

Tom Shefchunas

Tom Shefchunas (Shef) is the Executive Director at Youth Specialties. Shef also works with Orange in the development and strategy for XP3 Middle School and High School curriculum. Before that Shef was North Point Ministries’ Multi-Campus Director of Transit, their middle school ministry, for 12 years. And before that, he spent 10 years as a high school teacher, coach, and principal. His passion is working with, recruiting, and developing volunteers and leaders who will shape the next generation. Through nearly two decades of leadership in ministry Shef has had numerous opportunities to coach and be coached by some amazing individuals.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.