Friday, March 13, 2015

What Youth Camp Did for Me

Our family tends to shock people. Our lack of control of our children, some of Adam's choices of outfits, my occasional sailor mouth. But most often one of two things shocks people. They find out Adam is also the "youth" pastor for our high school youth group, or they find out he's actually the "real" pastor at our church as well. It's a hard and very different battle we are in. Every Sunday morning he's in his dry cleaned shirt preaching the Word, and on every Sunday night he's in a tshirt and jeans preaching the Word.

We've often had to pass or not offer certain opportunities to our high schoolers over the years because of the realities of our other commitments and also kids. This year there was a plea to go to Camp Timber-lee for one of their Winter Xtreme weekend camps. The kids (and my kids too even though they couldn't go) raked yards and volunteered their time to raise money to go and in the end four adults had enough crazy in them to take 24 students (13 high school and 11 jr high) to camp.

Dudes, I had 11 high school girls I was "responsible" for during the 48 hour trip. I'm the one and only girl high school youth leader. Me. To a winter camp. With snow. And cold. And something called broomball. And 11 girls. This was not my idea of a picnic. I kind of whined about it (a lot) to my husband and (a little) to my other friends. Send me to a conference, or a concert, or a tropical locale. That's my idea of a youth trip.

Our dear friends and Jr High youth leaders Josh and Jenny lovingly planned most of the details (they have gone multiple times) and Jenny gently prodded me into the van and ignored my eye rolls and fed me Twizzlers promising a great weekend. She's an excellent friend.

I had no idea that God was about to give me some things I'd been longing for. A chance to loosen up, connect with these sweet girls on a deeper level, and a renewal of my own spirit and the Spirit within me.

I loved the worship band and the speaker was very great for the students (I liked him, he was great at connecting with the youth). Most of our students do not attend our church so it was especially wonderful to sing alongside them and worship with them.  Arbor.Vitae Collective was so refreshing. I love worshiping in multiple ways, sometimes you need old hymns, sometimes you just need a drum cage.

I went tobogganing, snow tubing, and a whole slew of other outdoorsy things. I watched karaoke, and visited the nature center, threw some snow balls, did the chicken dance on the broomball lake, and learned hand motions to every single worship song. All sorts of ridiculous camp things.

But what I really needed was the chance to slow down, concentrate on my relationship with Jesus and share that relationship with others. I got to get up early and read my Bible during sunrise (I'm more of an on-the-fly reader during the day). I got to ask each girl separately how I can pray for them and help them grow in their walk with Jesus, making them feel awkward, but also hopefully loved. Because they are. Loved. I got to see my husband for a few minutes here and there without any children under 12 interrupting (there were children 12 and up interrupting, but that's the point!). A calming of the Spirit overtook me as the weekend went on. The stress of home and all it's lists were put aside. That's the point of camp (either summer or winter or whatever) isn't it? Be closer to nature and away from the usual stuff in life and therefore hopefully closer to God?

So I brought home some closer relationships, a few girls who wanted to start coming to church on Sunday mornings with us, and a few new songs to sing with the kids.

So thanks God. Thanks for calmly dealing with the grumblings of my mind, for pushing me gently to something you know is good for me even though I thought it was for someone else. You are the author of perfection and know every perfect thing I need, even and especially when I don't even know I need it myself.

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