About the Program

The Duke Youth Academy is a year-long program for young people to live in Christ and to think deeply about being Christian. Combining a week-long residency on the Duke University campus with a year of continuing mentorship, practice, and online community, DYA is a journey toward Christ’s abundant life.


During the summer, youth from around the nation will gather at Duke University for a week immersed in the rhythms of the church. Residency will include lectures from Duke Divinity School faculty; workshops with artists, athletes, community activists, and others who engage their faith in active, thoughtful ways; and opportunities to participate in leading worship.

The DYA residency is a formational experience. By bringing youth out of the context of their schools, churches, and other activities, DYA fosters an intentional Christian community that gives young people an opportunity to think about the day-to-day aspects of being Christian while they grapple with broader theological ideas.

Year of Mentorship

During the year following the residency, program participants and DYA mentors will continue to journey together in community, exploring important questions about Christian life through a monthly video lecture by Duke Divinity School faculty, short and accessible theological readings, private online forums, web chats, and more. Each participant will also have a community mentor—an adult from the young person’s congregation, school, or local community—who will offer advice and support.

This ongoing community will walk with participants as they put what they’ve learned during the summer residency into practice in their home communities and congregations, culminating in a Practices Project (see below) that each participant will create. They’ll ask questions at the core of Christian life: How do Christians speak? How do Christians act and react? How do Christians think about the future? How do Christians practice their faith? 

With the help of their DYA and community mentors, participants will study, prepare, execute, and reflect on a Christian practice that springs out of what they learn about their baptismal calling, equipping them for lifelong engagement with the Christian faith.

DYA is committed to working with every student, regardless of their access to technology. If you have questions about how the program can be adapted to your situation, please contact us

Daily Schedule for Residency

Our schedule during the DYA summer residency is based on a monastic pattern: studying in the mornings, working with our hands and bodies in the afternoons, and worshipping and reflecting in the evenings. Below is an example of the daily schedule:

7:30 a.m. Wake up!
8:15 a.m. Meet in the quad for morning watch, walk to breakfast
8:30 a.m. Breakfast with mentor groups in the dining hall
9:10 a.m. Morning Prayer in Duke Chapel
9:40 a.m. Announcements
9:45 a.m. Morning plenary: Plenary speakers are members of the Duke Divinity School faculty, and may include such noted theologians as J. Warren Smith, Ellen Davis, Amy Laura Hall, and Fred Edie
11:30 a.m. Snack time!
11:45 a.m. Worship workshops – learning how to lead and plan worship, then planning and preparing to lead a DYA worship service with a group of students and mentors
1:00 p.m. Lunch in the dining hall
1:30 p.m. Rest time in dorm rooms
2:30 p.m. Afternoon workshops with artists, athletes, community activists, gardeners, and others who uncover the intersection of Christian faith with daily life, artistic activity, justice work, and more.
6:00 p.m. Dinner in the dining hall or hospitality meals with local churches
7:00 p.m. Community time on the quad or worship preparation time
7:30 p.m. Evening worship
8:45 p.m. Mentor group reflection time (all students will be in small daily reflection groups with approximately 8 students and 2 mentors)
10:15 p.m. Free time in the dorm with optional discussion groups
11:15 p.m. In dorm rooms
11:30 p.m. Lights out!

The week on campus will be rigorous in schedule and in mind, and sometimes in body. We encourage students and staff to get adequate amounts of sleep each night, and to eat nutritious and balanced meals to sustain their work. We also encourage students and staff to discover ways to rest and enjoy Sabbath time, even in the midst of their busy schedules.

Online Community

Upon returning home from the residency week, students will be engaged with each other and DYA staff and mentors through a private and secure online platform where they can share thoughts, links, photos, and videos.

Each month, DYA will focus on one of the central theological themes of the Christian story (e.g., creation, covenant, incarnation) through a video lecture from a member of the Divinity School faculty, short and accessible theological readings, prayer practices, and web-based conversations in small groups. Each of these activities will be designed to accommodate for the varied schedules, educational backgrounds, and interests of teenagers. At the same time, they will help participants see God’s activity and theological themes in their daily lives and activities.

Participants can expect to commit to one monthly web-based meeting and the preparation for this meeting (approximately 3-5 hours total each month) in addition to any ongoing daily or weekly conversations they initiate and the time invested in their Practices Project.   

Practices Project

The Practices Project enables participants to invest deeply in a stream of Christian practice that resonates with them in their home community. The practices will be developed under the guidance of the DYA mentor and a community mentor.

Practices will attend to the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—in the planning, execution, and reflection. Potential practices include preparing and sharing a Bible study that includes embodied learning experiences; participating in worship as a Biblical storyteller, a painter, a dancer, or preacher; creating a come-and-go prayer room for the church; working alongside an established social justice organization; participating in the work of a local community garden; and so much more. Young people are able to craft their Practices Project to their unique gifts, interests, and context.

At the completion of the DYA year, the student will create a video, photo essay, or written reflection that can be shared with the DYA community, including staff and student alumni and DYA supporters.


The Youth in Christian Leadership Certificate is awarded to members of the Duke Youth Academy who participate in the residential and online life of the DYA community and complete all of the milestones associated with the Practices Project.

Students who complete the certificate and later attend Duke Divinity School for graduate education in the future may be eligible for scholarships designated for Duke Youth Academy alumni.

Community Participation

  • June 2014: Student attends the DYA Residency
  • July 2014-June 2015: Student engages monthly theological lecture, readings, and prayer practices
  • July 2014-June 2015: Student prepares for and participates in monthly mentor group web chat or substitute reflective activity as determined by the mentors and the director of DYA

The Practices Project Milestones

  • Quarter 1 (July and August): Student identifies interest area, begins research
    • September 1: Interest area defined
  • Quarter 2 (September-December): Student researches interest area, sets out enactment plan
    • December  1, 2014: Practices Project Proposal due
  • Quarter 3 (January-March): Student enacts and embodies the practice project
    • March 31, 2015: Practices Projects completed
  • Quarter 4 (April-June): Student continues, reflects, and shares practice
    • June 1, 2015: Practices Project Reflections due
  • July 2015: Celebration and public sharing
    This optional event will take place on the campus to Duke University, mid-day on a Saturday in mid or late July. Those who are unable to attend in person will be given the chance to participate in part via the web.