Youth Dynamics  God and adventure meet in unique program 

YD-Whitewater Rapids

A raft full of Youth Dynamics students and their parents navigate the Go Left rapid on the Upper Main Payette River. It is the first major rapid on that section of the Payette. Their guide is Ryan Bentley, base director for the Adventures Base in Horseshoe Bend. (Photo submitted by Youth Dynamics) 

By Gaye Bunderson 

Think nature. Think whitewater, hiking, scenery, and wildlife. Now, think about God. 

That’s the goal of an organization called Youth Dynamics: fuse the outdoors with thoughts about the Creator and what He might mean to your life. 

Brandon Burie is a marketing coordinator and staff member with Youth Dynamics in southern and west central Idaho. The non-profit was founded in 1970 in Washington state and launched in the Gem State in 2006, with an Adventures Base in Horseshoe Bend. 

“We operate primarily two different styles of locations,” Burie explained. “Adventures Bases are where the trips run out of and we have four: Idaho (Horseshoe Bend and Grangeville); Washington (Plain); and Oregon (Canby). A program called Communities Ministry happens throughout the three states in 14 current locations. Idaho locations are Horseshoe Bend, Riggins, and now Emmett. This is where the after school drop-in programs such as Connect and Discover Groups happen. Horseshoe Bend is unique in that it is both an Adventures Base and a Communities Ministry site.” 

Whatever the location and program, the emphases are always young people and adventure. 

“We’re primarily an outreach ministry,” Burie stated. “We assume students don’t know about Christ. We try to use meaningful relationships and impactful adventure to connect young people with Him. We set an example of, ‘We love you; we love Christ. It doesn’t matter where you’re at – believer or unbeliever – we’re here to welcome you’.” 

Just exactly what that adventure looks like might vary from base to base; but in Horseshoe Bend, 27.4 miles from Boise, participants do a lot of rock climbing, river rafting, kayaking, and single-day hikes. A 7- to 8-day Owyhee River excursion is also offered. 

Whether a single- or multi-day event, the day starts with a devotion, followed by a 20- to 30-minute quiet time; during the evening, adventurers discuss the highs and lows of the day, and all participants are asked, “How did you experience God today?” 

No one is put on the spot and, in fact, according to Burie, one recent conversation went like this: “One student had a spiritual hard heart, but he loved the adventures. Eventually, he softened his heart just a little and opened up to the possibility of a higher power. When we’d ask people, ‘How did you experience God today?’, he’d say, ‘I don’t believe in God so I’m not going to answer’. But he’s started to show signs of coming around.” 

Another student comes to everything, Burie said – all the events. She calls her parents “toxic Christians” and is “very resistant to faith,” he said. She did nonetheless accept a Bible on one occasion. 

The ministry process is about setting an example, acting and serving with love, and sharing – when the opportunity arises – what God has done in each YD staff members’ life. 

Many youths respond to the process quickly. “For some, it just takes a moment for them to accept the Lord,” Burie said. And late last year, one student was baptized during a service at a Horseshoe Bend church. 

A side benefit of the adventures is their lower cost. Burie explained: “A 6-day Lower Salmon River raft trip can cost upwards of $1,500-$2,000. We offer it at far less – about $400 – and we have a scholarship fund.” 

Youth Dynamics also provides the technical gear for everything. Each base is equipped with the essential tools needed for youth to explore nature, including food, equipment, training, and insurance. “With the different landscapes offered by each location, each trip is unique and provides its own special opportunities and blessings,” Burie said. 

Burie said of his exploring-adventure ministry, after a very stormy trip on the Owyhee that left participants drenched for days: “There is more to adventure than simply consuming an experience. When in dynamic environments, we must be active participants. The experience leaves us with both highs and lows. Mixed in are moments or challenges that are hard and need to be processed. 

“We leave adventures as changed people, bonded with those we adventured with and a better understanding of ourselves. When we make Christ a focal point of the experience, we grow closer to Him, just like we did our companions.” 

There is a 6-person team at the Horseshoe Bend base, as well as 4-6 seasonal staff. When hiking and other warm weather activities are curtailed by seasonal changes, a ministry to students is still available through such events as indoor games and other programs that help students make connections – hence the name Connect. 

Youth Dynamics wants to deepen the ministry and grow and expand. The organization wants to connect youth with local churches, and there is a need for more Discover Groups, as mentioned above. According to Burie: “Discover Groups are programs we would like to see restarted soon, as students grow and staff resources grow. The goal of Discover Groups is to go a little deeper with students who are taking steps in their faith and have established a relationship with Youth Dynamics staff. This would be space for students to wrestle with the complexities of the gospel and how it interacts with their life, as well as have room for more honest and vulnerable relationships.” 

The non-profit is also always looking for more volunteers and more people to fill staff positions. “There’s a million ways to get involved,” Burie stated. “Financial partnerships are also necessary.” 

Other facets of Youth Dynamics are its leadership program for young people. This is a “6-week internship opportunity for young adults ages 16-19 to work closely with stateside missionaries who use wilderness adventures to share the love of Christ. Students experience discipleship, adventure, challenge, and leadership. The program runs from July 5-August 14 each year and students may experience inflatable kayaking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, horseback riding, backpacking, hiking, a challenge course, and mountaineering, depending on base location.” (Information taken from To learn more about YD Adventures Idaho, go to 

Following are a few comments from young people who have participated in the leadership program. (Comments provided, without names, by Garrett Koepke, Staffing Manager-Idaho, Youth Dynamics.) 

  • “I grew in the ability to relate to the Bible, and not be scared at this big historical book, find and define myself in Christ, and figure out my faith alongside and share it with others.”
  • “I learned that God is a big enough God to handle the hard questions, the angry cries, and the questions of unbelief.”
  • “I was really challenged to know why I believe what I do, and to have grace and understanding when people share a different view.”

Another facet is working with area church youth groups to provide outdoor, faith-based experiences. Said Burie: “Our staff will assist churches in building a custom-facilitated experience for your group that will best meet your goals, whether it is team building, leadership development, discipleship, ‘owning your faith’, creating trust within the group, or helping young people to find their personal identity in Christ.” 

At age 25, Burie has been involved in the Christian adventure experience since 2018, working with an outfitter in Colorado and with church youth groups. He ended up in Idaho after applying for an internship in Washington during the pandemic in 2020 and being told there were no internships there, but “Idaho can take you.” Along with being the marketing coordinator in Horseshoe Bend, he is also a guide and facilitator and in that capacity goes on all YD adventures with other staff and young people. 

He grew up in church, specifically the Dutch Reformed Church in Michigan, where he lived with his  family. “That’s the way it was there. The three priorities were work, family, church. That was the cultural norm.” 

He currently attends Hill City Church in Boise’s North End after taking the church’s youth group on a rock climbing event. 

Burie said the most important thing about what he does now – and what Youth Dynamics is all about – is the emphasis on meaningful relationships and impactful adventures, as stated. “The ultimate goal,” he said, “is to see students have a lifelong adventure with Christ and His Church.” 


Burie may be reached by email at [email protected] or by cell at (616) 414-0640. 

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