I have never had so much adventure, fun, love and Jesus packed into one week as I have the past week. It will be hard to pick and choose what I tell you about because every day literally from the time that we woke up (630 most mornings for me to get training in) until the time that we crashed at 12am, we were having a blast. When I say that we were having a blast, I'm not joking. I have never laughed and loved so much. If you've never had the opportunity to go to a young life camp, and you have the chance, then definitely do it because when they say it'll be the "best week of your life", they don't lie.
Burns had a small group go (4 kids-2 guys/2 girls) so we stayed in the cabin with the girls from Crest. The schools in the area that went are Shelby/Crest/Burns, and Shelby had their own cabin of girls. When the leaders met every day and talked over things, I just feel like we had the greatest group of kids go..I truly mean that. They are all just so sweet. We brought a total of 36 kids I believe.
When we arrived in Colorado and came up those mountains, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. The pictures don't do it justice, and Colorado is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life, and I've traveled to a good number of places. The entire week it never got old and every night when the light was just right at dusk, I was just in awe of the world that God has created for us to see.
If you aren't familiar with Young Life but you follow my blog, the ministry is meant to show the fun and full life that you can have in Christ through meaningful relationships. It's meant to show high school kids that it's not about rules and legalism of faith but it's about the relationship with Christ. So many times, we get so caught up on the good vs bad things that we do when it really is not meant to be about that. We try to show kids that they can come as they are, unashamed bringing all their pain and baggage and whatever it may be, and they are accepted. They don't have to dress a certain way at camp or anything of that nature.
Every week we have what is called "club" and at camp, we have one every single night. It's meant to be clean humor, and the guys this past week, I wish had a youtube channel or TV show and I'd watch them all the time. They.were.hilarious. The best part is-it's all 100% clean humor but based on pop culture, so the kids are just absolutely in love with it. They make up new lyrics to popular rap songs, we sing popular top 40 songs at the top of our lungs and at the end, the speaker gives a message for about 15 minutes. Each week of camp, the message builds on itself and at the end they have the opportunity of course to accept this truth for their life. It's not pressed upon them in any way. If they leave and haven't, then it's no big deal. That doesn't mean we love them any less, and that doesn't mean that we stop hanging out with them all the time. That's the entire point of Young Life. REAL RELATIONSHIPS. LOVE. ACCEPTANCE.
I know sometimes to those that might not be Christian and follow my blog just for fitness&health advice might be thinking it's some convert camp or something, but that's truly not what it is at all, but just hard for me personally to put into words. It was just a group of people that put their hands together and said we are going to make a camp that brings what we believe to be heaven to Earth so that these kids can experience what that truly looks like.
After this week, I have realized that it is more true than ever that we all struggle in different areas, but one thing is true and that is that we all want to be loved and accepted. We YEARN for that and we all want meaningful connections in our lives. Before going to camp, I knew that was the heart of the ministry but time is hard for me to give up. I feel that every moment of every day is about being productive, but sometimes the most productive thing that I can be doing is spending time with one of my girls. When I get to the end of my life, I don't want it to be about how productive I was, but that I loved well and that I had meaningful relationships. It's like my eyes have been opened so wide this week.
Crazy behavior is encouraged-we want all of them to TRULY be themselves! The kids run into the cafeteria while the leaders dance on chairs. They RUN into club screaming popular songs at the top of their lungs and dancing like crazy. As they get off the bus the very first day, we let them know that we could NOT be more excited that they are there. I was nervous about the amount of energy I was going to have to keep up for an entire week, and it most certainly was the case but SO rewarding and SO fun. I never once thought "Oh this is annoying!" and nothing felt like I had to, but rather I was just like a kid again. We always want to be the craziest goons in the room to give each high schooler the opportunity to fully be who they are and not be embarrassed by anything.
This week, there was a continuous skit from the team. It had nothing to do with Christianity. It was just pure hilarious skits and they would do games and call up different kids each night. Whoever won, they would play "ALL I DO IS WIN WIN WIN" and that kid had to dance on stage. Because everyone is crazy constantly, these kids danced fully and without fear on stage in front of 500 peers because they could.
Here's a link to the videos from this week: http://scrapbook.younglife.org/video/Rodeo-and-Pool-5;Crooked-Creek-Week-5
Every detail of camp is designed to let them know they are loved. Every detail about them is loved and taken care of. There were leader meetings every day so that we made sure of that. No one ever dances alone. No one ever sings alone. The only thing that we ask them to do alone is twice we ask them to sit in silence for 15 minutes under the Western sky. This is not meant to be for prayer but it can be. It's just meant to be to do something that in our culture we never do. Every napkin, every plate, every cup, every meal is planned down to a science. There is summer staff that comes out full of energy and feeds us all week. It's endless amazing food, coffee, and snacks!
Every detail is also a secret. We never tell the kids what is next. They don't have watches. They don't have phones. We just want it all to be exciting. We schedule out their entire days and they just follow along and have a ball. There are different themes each day, and different tournaments. For example, we had a volleyball tournament the first afternoon, pool olympics, rodeo, western night with square dancing, Christmas in July and different rides. The rides were the zipline, ropes course, horse back riding, Ridge Runners, mountain biking, and a big swing. This was all scheduled for each cabin to do at different times to make sure that each cabin got to do each activity. The speaker jokingly said if you didn't know better, you'd think this week was fat camp in disguise. HAHA!! It really was-we were so active!
At the end of the week, the activities slow down just a little bit so that the adults can have more time to just spend with them and talk to them. We talk through the things that they are feeling, how their home life is, how we can help in whatever that might be. If they decide they want to live a life full in Jesus, then we help them to see what that's all about.
This week is meant to be all about them, so I definitely gave a lot of myself this week because my number 1 goal was to make sure that all of my girls were loved at all times. And somehow, as much as I gave, I have never felt so poured into. It's such a beautiful thing. One of the last nights, there were certain leaders picked for cardboard testimonies. Two of our leaders were chosen, and basically they just walk out with a phrase to describe their old life and words to describe their life now in Jesus. When our two walked out, I was quite literally sobbing. It was things that I didn't know about them, and just seeing how transformed they are, I was just blown away.
Pictured above is me with the only two girls specifically from my school that I'm a leader at! This week was SO amazing to be able to get closer to both of them, and they both just make me feel so at home as if I've known them forever! I could go on and on about how wonderful they both are, but just know that they both are lovely <3
As much as I try to live my life in a positive way, I've realized that in some ways I have a lot of things a bit backwards. My husband deserves more of me. My family deserves more of me. My blog and my instagram and my business deserve the best of me in their place. They deserve to be done to my utmost potential IN THEIR SPECIFIC TIME FRAME. As we all know, this is something that all business owners struggle with, but after that last night I just cried in Tanner's arms. I want to be too many people at one time and I want to do the best in all of those things leaving me completely dry at the end of mostly 12 hour work days.
In all honesty, the day before we left, I was like "AH! I do not have time for this trip! I'm so behind and it would be better for me to just not go." WOW-how much of a mindset can change in a week! I'm so excited to get back to routine, but I'm so excited for my routine to look completely different to be honest. I read about a study that was done showing that there are psychological positive changes when one leaves their current routine, goes to a different one spending time in nature and just to relax. You come back refreshed and renewed and inspired to be a better person.
Colorado specifically made me feel this way. The camp was in Fraser, CO kinda out in the middle of nowhere but the Rockies were in our backyard. It was absolutely breath taking. I would go running on the trails that were perfectly crafted around the camp seeing nature in a completely different way. Yes, the atmosphere was different and my pace was slower but I didnt' pay attention to that at all. I just didn't care. All I wanted to do was move my feet through those mountains and I tried to do as much as I possibly could. Training really didn't happen much to be honest. They had weights and a spin bike and I did some lifts and biking, no swimming and some running. It was minimal. I'm super behind on training, but I'll figure it out. Life is just so much more than that, so I'm not really concerned about it.
I know I'm the tough girl slave driver at times, and I'm so thankful for Jesus bringing me to reality sometimes! ;) I most definitely need it and I can't wait to get back now! <3 I could write pages upon pages on this week on all we did, but it just wouldn't do it justice.