This will be one of many posts over the next couple of weeks as I contemplate my experiences from youth camp.
Pursuit was the theme at youth camp this year… for me it could have been “uncomfortable.” I went to camp last year and it was easy. I drove one of the vans to camp, hung out during the day after Bible study and then had lunch, a nap and dinner then evening worship and church youth group time and bed. Pretty easy week, I didn’t have to worry about the kids or make sure they were safe. I just had to make sure the one or two kids that I hung around made it to meals and services. It was a piece of cake. The hardest part was sharing a room with one of our students.
This year was a whole different story. I agreed to go and be a driver then we signed up for MFUGE instead of Centrifuge which we had done the year before. MFUGE was everything like before but instead of hanging out and napping I took kids from a bunch of different churches to go and do missions in Santa Fe. Our group had our leader (staff) then five or six adults and about 25 students. We were one of the PCY (painting, construction and yard work) groups. We spent our day at Youth Works and the whole week I was completely out of my comfort zone. I was hungry, tired, hot, cold, cranky and just wanted to have five minutes to myself. Going into the week it was totally about me and no one else. I didn’t know if I wanted to give up five days of vacation to go to a camp that, although each room had its own bathroom and you used a key card to get in your room, I knew I would have to share a room with someone, not have a nap and fight my asthma all week (the camp is at 7500 ft in elevation). But the biggest reason not to go was I didn’t want to do missions. It’s scary and people reject you and you have to recite all these verses about how you are going to go to hell if you don’t believe. That is true but it’s scary to tell a total stranger that and they reject or accept you. I just imagined spending my day knocking on doors and doing visitations. That is not my cup of
diet coke tea.
So I went out of obligation. I couldn’t leave Josh hanging and some of the kids I had talked to over this past year but I really only knew two or three really well and the rest were just kids that came. I knew their parents much better than them. Boy was I in for a shock!!!!
First uncomfortable moment is when I am paired with three girls. I knew all of them but one I was the most comfortable with and the others I figured I would get use to it. To be honest there were days that I wanted to come back from our track and have a shower to get the grime off and take a nap but that wasn’t the plan because in our room would be the “little girls”- the new girls (7-8 grade) hanging out with E and playing Catch Phrase. Catch Phrase is my favorite game and I am a little competitive but I really just wanted a shower and nap but instead I showered and played the game with them. We all had fun and I got to know the younger girls better. I would have missed out if I had gotten my way. We ended up playing that game for a couple of days. The three girls worked out well too. I got to know A and J much better and we have some great stories and good laughs over the course of the week. Time that now makes me miss them when they go off to college next year.
My second uncomfortable moment was when they (the Bible Study leaders) talked about what we were going to be doing- connecting with people. As I said before, I am not a good door knocker and I really didn’t want to hand out tracks. Thankfully they said we could do what we knew- Romans’ road, other bible verses or just talk to them about family, interests, their religion and then talk to them about what God has done in our lives. How we see and experienced Him. I starting thinking that I could do that and not freak out. I have lots of stories I could share from my life. I just had to get over my fear of strangers. If you know me, you know that I can talk to anyone but by anyone I mean, they have to be attending a Farm Bureau event, book club, walking group or a friend of a friend. Otherwise I have stranger danger and want to run the other way. So having 25 kids that I don’t really know and 23 of them I have no idea of their names and where they were from; add in the other five adults and then the adults we were working with at Youth Works and I was in stranger overload. So I put on my big girl pants and sucked it up. It was just four days and I could do anything for four days.
But God used those four days, the three girls from my room, the little girls and the worship and Bible Study time to teach me something. That it really isn’t about me and my comfort zone. It’s about reaching out to others and helping them and showing them love.
My next couple of blogs will be the lessons I learned at youth camp.