On Saturday we spent the day together as Staff, Leaders, and Work Crew preparing for camp. Every time I’m in an environment like this, I’m humbled by everyone’s willingness to dive into Scripture, to share what’s going on in their lives, and to examine what it looks like to love and serve the kids we’re working with. Many of our leaders are nearly kids themselves, so to see them step outside themselves and reach out to their friends and neighbors is truly a beautiful thing.
We started the day looking at Biblical examples of people who experienced God in profound ways when they step outside their normal contexts. We talked about why it’s hard to hear God’s voice in the daily grind. From there, we examined each aspect of camp, why we do it, and how we can serve kids well. To share some thoughts that struck me…
Games, Program: We play games to laugh, to create community, to capture a piece of childhood that many of our friends have missed. Through humor we can share the gospel in a different way and teach what it means to experience positive laughter. We can lead well by “taking the hit,” going all out without caring what people think, and setting kids up to be the stars.
Club: Club provides a concrete platform from which we can share the gospel. We meet kids where they are through music, humor, and a relevant message, and from there we point them to Christ. We can lead well by listening, participating, and following up with kids on what we’re hearing.
Cabin Time: Cabin time invites kids into real conversation and community. It creates space where kids can
process and share what’s really going on in their lives. We can lead well by making ourselves vulnerable, listening well, asking good questions, and praying for our cabins.
Meal Times: Meals foster a sentiment of community and family between cabins. Most kids don’t have the experience of sharing a meal with family – either because food is lacking or because their family is fragmented. We can lead well by serving our campers first even if we’re hungry and creating conversation.
Our discussion went down many different avenues, but these are just a few highlights. If you’re reading this in the States, you might be thinking, “well, yeah, those are the basics of YL, nothing new here.” I’ve been learning over the past year, that what’s normal for me and for my previous YL experience is truly revolutionary and countercultural here. Take the games. In a shame based culture, people strive to protect their dignity. Often, it’s better to not try than to risk and fail. For a leader to willingly make a fool out of himself, to lose, to get a pie in the face goes against the grain of what they’ve been taught since Day 1. It’s truly a loving act of service.
Take cabin time. The daily reality of the people I know here is filled with more pain than I’ve known in my life. To enter into that pain, to share it in hopes that it will help someone else, to know that the only way to heal is to face the pain takes immense courage. And our leaders do it because they know that Christ is both present in the pain and desiring to bring freedom and healing. To open up and share in cabin time is truly a loving act of service.
I could go on.
As we head into camp I’m encouraged by our leaders and their willingness to go all out for kids – my next post will be post camp, and I’m excited to share what unfolds!