Penndel Winter Retreat Week 1 Production

One of the first events that I mixed for when I toured for Valley Forge Christian College was a Penndel  Assemblies of God youth camp at the Phillip Bongiorno Conference Center in Carlisle, PA.  I still remember the camp, stage design, theme and kids.  The theme was “Driven” and the catch phrase was “What drives you?”  They talked about living a life driven by God, the Bible and His ways and driving your live down the road He has marked out for you.  It’s been quite a while since that camp and Penndel books a VFCC worship team for most of their events and I have been to almost all of their youth events in the past two years and I have a great amount of respect for their communication of the gospel and how they do such an amazing job at meeting kids ranging from ages 12-17 where they are in their lives and helping them to learn and understand the Bible and what God has for them in their lives.  They clearly and consistently communicate salvation in a critical stage of their lives and then foster and encourage spiritually maturity and high standards in every aspect of life.  This is desperately needed in a generation of young people who want to feel that someone cares about them and understands them and their situation.

This past weekend kicked off a three consecutive weekend Winter Retreat 2011 for middle and high school students at the Philip Bongiorno Conference Center in Carlisle, PA.  Their theme for this event was “Parallel”.  They are focusing on living a life parallel to the one that Jesus lived during his time on earth and to follow his blameless example.  I love how they have created an environment and stage design that reflects what the theme is and helps to non-verbally communicate and reiterate the message and theme of the event.

A big deal to me is that the Penndel Youth Department is committed to a great production in every aspect but also realizes that in order to cultivate growth in new leaders, they need to be given an opportunity to develop skills that they might not have otherwise had an opportunity to discover and then to take those skills back to their home churches and youth groups and use those skills to help communicate the gospel more effectively where they have been planted.  They do this by announcing that students can volunteer to help with the production.  Penndel runs full IMAG video for all their services in 1080p.  They usually have at least 3 camera angles that are feed to two huge 16:10 screens on each side of the stage.  They also use various LCD TV’s placed strategically in their stage designs which are usually pretty elaborate.  For example, at Winter Retreat this year, they had 5 levels of staging.  In their production room backstage, they have a portable video rig with a Panasonic video mixer, screen for video mixing, Mac Pro for recording and for running Renewed Vision’s Pro Video Player and a few Mac Mini’s running Propresenter through a network.  They use alot of student volunteers and interns to run the production.  It’s a pretty sweet opportunity for students because I know at that age I was dying to get my hands on gear like that and never had the chance.

Their most recent upgrade has been their own house sound system through the generous donation of churches and through new gear.  They run a Avid (Digidesign) Venue SC48 console as their FOH board.  They run a digital output to a BSS system processor which then goes to various Crest, Crown and QSC amps powering their EAW mains.  Their most recent purchase was new EAW SB2001 subwoofers and QSC PL380 amplifiers.  The subwoofers have dual 21″ drivers in each and they put out some seriously deep low end.

The masterminds behind this are Nick Palomo who is the head of the media department for the Penndel District.  He built the department up when he was hired and has created a standard for excellence while still helping to train up the next generation of talented production personnel.  More recently, Sam Cornwell has joined the media staff as the Youth Creative Media Lead bringing a new set of talents to the table.  This is all part of a youth department led by District Youth Director, Doug Sayers.

I have enjoyed working with the district for roughly the past two years and still try to make it a point to be a their events as much as I can.  I am extremely thankful for the time I have spent there because it is always a learning a growing experience.  They have taught me alot about production, event management, and being able to simply react to a situation positively and quickly solve whatever is necessary.  One of the reasons I have developed the skills that I’m going to make my living on is because of their investment in my life.  I believe you are blessed for sowing seeds into the kingdom of God and I know their investment has been yielding great returns not just with better and better events each time, but also through encouraging teens, giving them opportunity to shine, and through pouring their heart, soul, and life passions into students.  I have seen it with my own eyes and watched students develop and grow.

I’m excited for what God is doing spiritually and through their ministry and lives.  I believe God is going to great things because of how much they have poured into it and because of their selfless dedication.  I am excited to go back next weekend and mix again for Winter Retreat week 2 and for Chosen 2010.  I’m praying for God to do something big in the lives of the leaders, staff, media and production team, as well as the students.

Check out the Penndel District Youth Department at www.penndelyouth.com

Follow the Penndel District Assemblies of God Youth Department on facebook by clicking here.

Feel free to comment or email me at jason@jasoncastellente.com

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