For the past few summers I’ve had the privilege of going to Youth Camp. No, not because I’m so young physically, but mentally I fit right in! At least I think so! I actually go as a volunteer with our church’s Youth and Middle School Ministry. An event that in the past has averaged at least 70 teens and tweens and this year we had over 100. So much hype leading up to it, planning, and scheduling and lots and lots of fundraising, so all kids get a chance to go especially if finances are an issue. Some of the kids this year came up with some creative ideas including, but not limited to, jewelry making, designing t-shirts and hats and cleaning homes of church members. Look out Shark Tank many super money makers coming your way!
Youth Camp is such a rite of Passage. A place where your background doesn’t matter. We all stay in the same place with the same ultimate goal and FUN being one of them. So, me and my Pollyanna-Mom self go along with the intention that I have 5 days to go deep and engage with these kids and I’m going to change their lives forever!! Then reality sets in and it’s actually me that ends up changing! This year’s camp theme was “Greater Than” based upon this Bible verse:
“You, dear children are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”
It’s amazing how the attitudes and atmosphere change as the week starts off with the focus on fun, and as “walls” come down it becomes all about God! I witnessed middle-schoolers go from running around the campus playing hide and seek and ding-dong ditch to praying for each other. As well as a 2 hour worship and prayer service on the bus ride home! So awesome how when we have nothing to focus on but God it’s easy to see Him and feel His presence all around us! I leave in awe of what an impact of a few days can have in a young person’s life. There’s a bond that forms at camp and Jesus the equalizer brings them all together! They now have friends that will encourage them on their daily walk, the memories of camp and those “remember when“ times that they heard in a message or while playing a team game.
I’m reading through the camp mail that everyone at camp writes to each other, so grateful for those kind words of encouragement to get you through the back to home life realities. I actually use some of my camp mail as bookmarks in my Bible. Seeing those little white notecards reminds me that I am appreciated and loved even when it seems like what I mostly did at camp was hand out band-aids and sunscreen! We all leave camp with a new perspective to get us through the “Back to School Blues.”
So as I remember the teens that I’ve been hanging with for a week with arms high and full on freely worshipping, I’m reminded that as adults we sometimes overthink things and try to schedule and formulate many aspects of life. I am so blessed to be able to witness the simplicity of worship and prayer through these teens this past week. Simplicity is Good. A childlike faith gets us closer to God.
I learned this simple prayer outline this week, thanks to one of the Pastors that shared a message:
God, You are Good
God, I Need You
God, They Need You
My time with God really can be short and simple and have eternal effects… just like 5 days away at Camp!
I encourage you, even if you can’t do 5 whole days, to RETREAT and simplify. Small moments can add up to Big Changes!