Hey internet! I’m still here! I went into camp planning and hibernation mode at the end of June and am just now digging my way out. Do you want to know about camp? How about seven things about camp?
~ ONE ~
I was really worried about camp this year. This year has been really rough on our group… we lost our meeting space, several key personalities graduated, the whole church moved into a building that had space for everyone to meet except the youth group. Morale has been down and I have been working ten times harder than I ever have in my life just trying to keep everyone together. We really needed camp to be a big week for us… not just spiritually but socially and emotionally. And it totally was. We had the most unexpected kids emerge as leaders and the most random pairs become good friends. I could not have asked for more.
~ TWO ~
I think every group thinks their group is the coolest group, but I think our group is actually the coolest group. I have never been around a funnier group of teenagers in all my youth working years. We have our own breakdancing team (with their own signature moves). We have group singalongs to Bohemian Rhapsody and original songs about showering with our clothes on. We have music videos. We take Miley Cyrus songs and change the lyrics so the song is about poop. I don’t even like poop jokes, but that song is hilarious.
~ THREE ~
This was our first year at an MFUGE camp, and I really loved it. It was an extremely packed schedule, but I never felt like we were doing things for no reason. Every day, from 10-3, the kids were out in the city of Birmingham doing service projects. They painted houses and schools, visited nursing homes, ran sports camps at the Y, served food in soup kitchens, delivered meals to homebound seniors, wrote skits and songs to perform and teach kids at VBS, fixed cars and did yardwork. And in the midst of all that work they built relationships with each other and with the people they were serving. They learned to see the poor and needy as people just like them.
~ FOUR ~
Three hour van trips are way better than eight hour van trips. At least they are when you’re the driver.
~ FIVE ~
Samford University is an amazing camp location. Everything is close together and totally walkable, the campus is beautiful, and the food is fantastic. Seriously. But the best part? The dorms. Each room had a living room/kitchen and two bedrooms with their own bathrooms to house four kids. Our living room became the party room, complete with streamers and balloons and popsicles at midnight. I can’t think of much of anything I would like to do more than girl talk in the party room every night when the day wraps up. You can learn a lot about inter-group dating when you play Never Have I Ever at 2am on an Otter Pop sugar high.
~ SIX ~
I am always a little wary of big, emotional camp experiences. I want kids to experience God in real and life-changing ways, but I worry about those experiences being atmosphere- and emotion-induced rather than real and honest responses. One night at camp the speaker did a pretty traditional invitation… prayed a prayer and then asked the kids who had prayed along with him to stand up. I was shocked, SHOCKED, to look up and see probably half of my group standing up.
But when we got to our church group room, it was full of dry eyes and focused kids. We started talking about what they were going through and thinking about and heard the same story over and over again: they’d had an experience in the past, been baptized, maybe had always gone to church because their parents made them or it’s just what you’re supposed to do. But they felt different now. Older, more mature, more independent. They wanted to make a new commitment and start to figure out a faith and a relationship with God that was theirs, that was real to them, not just something they did because it’s the right thing to do. Very even, very honest, very practical. Love.
~ SEVEN ~
I love camp. Camp is my favorite. It’s exhausting being the one who has to be up before everyone and go to bed after them, it’s an unbelievable amount of work in advance, I feel stress like I don’t feel at any other time while we’re at camp. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Getting to take 20 of my favorite kids in the world away for a week to learn, serve, play and just take a break from life is truly an honor. I am beyond grateful to get to do what I do.