“It didn’t look this long on the map,” comments Emily Aiken, 15, of Bible Baptist Church in Bedford, Ohio. She was looking at the route she and her partner, Elijah Kinnison, would canvass during the teen outreach activity on Tuesday afternoon. Emily and 33 other teens canvassed some Schaumburg neighborhoods, passing out 1,900 fliers for Great Commission Baptist Church.

Started in January of this year, the mission church now runs about 25 people and remains the only GARBC church in Schaumburg. Pastor Scott Greening appreciates the visibility this activity gives the church while helping teens see the value of service. He sees the canvassing activity as a “good reminder that Christ is building His church, and we can participate.”

Once they had passed out their materials, the teens sat in the shade, exchanging stories about the afternoon’s events. As conversation drifted to home states and pastimes, Kaitlyn Peters surprised the bus by telling us about her eating moose.

“But we’re not hillbillies,” she quickly assures us.

Justin Baker, 16, and his two brothers find the conference refreshing, since they attend a public school in Salem, Ore. They appreciate this year’s theme, which reminds them that God is in control of everything. The brothers did insist that I pronounce their state’s name as only two syllables, omitting the middle syllable. I’m still grappling with the possibility of Oregon having a vestigial syllable.

The Baker brothers, like many of the other teens, are looking forward to the photo scavenger hunt in downtown Chicago’s famed Millennium Park. Jackson, 11, already looks like a local, his Cubs baseball cap testifying of his sports allegiance. And why does he love a sports team located over 2,000 miles away?

“Because they’re awesome!” Jackson says.