By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Nick Steinkamp feels much better about the future of the Great River Teens Encounter Christ program.
"The generosity of this community and the Tracy Family Foundation is just unbelievable," said Steinkamp, who is the Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) coordinator.
A recent $7,500 grant from the Tracy Family Foundation put the program's fundraiser, which began in late 2012, over the $44,000 mark in donations and pledges.
"It feels like a burden has been lifted," Steinkamp said. "This has rejuvenated so many things."
The original goal of the fundraiser was $30,000.
"The relief provided by the (Tracy grant) in the general operating budget will allow TEC organizers to continue offering various retreat weekends for local youth at affordable prices," Steinkamp said.
The three-day Catholic retreats are designed to help deepen the faith of participants. The TEC experience is held on Quincy University's North Campus. The fundraiser, the first for TEC in its 41 years, has been boosted by such positives as an active online presence on Facebook and a "commitment Sunday" throughout the Quincy Deanery.
More than 6,300 teens have participated in the Great River TEC since its inception in 1971.
"A TEC is a three-day retreat in which candidates are led by a team of peers and adults that let the candidates know they are not alone in their struggles," Steinkamp said. "Team members share their own life experiences, both good and bad with the hope that those experiences will help the candidates reflect on their own ideals, hopes, dreams and problems."
The fee to attend a TEC weekend for a new candidate (ages 16-21) is $50. The fee for an adult (22 and over) wishing to observe a TEC weekend is $100.
Steinkamp said the goal is to continue to lower those figures in the coming year(s), but noted there is a fine line to walk when it comes covering expenses and lowering fees. The fees that are charged do not cover the costs. A candidate's fee, for example, is less than half the actual cost of $109 for a weekend.
The next TEC weekend is scheduled for March 9-11. For more information on the TEC program, contact Steinkamp at firstname.lastname@example.org.