I had the privilege and pleasure of accompanying my area’s WyldLife group to Southwind (a YoungLife camp in Ocklawaha, Florida) June 7-11 and boy, was that long weekend a blessing! This is going to sound crazy (especially if you’ve ever been to weeklong YoungLife summer camp), but I think I might have actually enjoyed leading a bunch of middle schoolers at Southwind for WyldLife summer camp more than I enjoyed the “best week of my life” as a camper at Frontier Ranch for YoungLife camp last summer. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time at Frontier Ranch (watch my video and read my travel diary from the week here), but getting to be behind the scenes in all the fun and hear about why we do each activity that just seems like fun for the camper was so neat. I also loved playing a part in the growth of those sweet eighth grade girls’ relationships with Jesus. I’m so excited to be sharing this special time at camp with you today! Enjoy!
Much like my Frontier Ranch travel diary last summer, I’m not going to go into a ton of detail on the itinerary of each day at Southwind because that could potentially ruin surprises for any readers that are also going to Southwind this summer, and if you’ve ever been to a YoungLife camp you know that the time is jam-packed with surprises and that the surprises are half the fun! All that you really need to know about my time at Southwind is that it was truly the sweetest. The cabin of eighth grade girls I’ve been seeing at WyldLife club all year and led at Carolina Point back in February began to see me less as a chaperone or counselor and more as a leader and friend. Suddenly I was included in the inside jokes, invited to tag along to the snack bar, asked to make matching friendship bracelets, and became a shoulder to cry on. When I got on the bus at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday I was hoping and praying that I’d impact these girls in my time doing life with them at Southwind, but they impacted me more than they’ll ever understand. Their sweet smiles during worship songs (“Rescue” now holds a special place in my heart) and genuinely thoughtful responses in cabin time reminded me what God’s love really looks like. A relationship with God looks like a tight hug. It looks like the jumping and screaming of a united cabin after winning a game of octaball. It looks like deep conversations while learning to weave an anklet. It looks like the words “I’m so glad you came to camp with me.”
As per usual at YoungLife camps, the food was impeccable (especially big cookie). The club speaker, Hancock, was absolutely amazing and used so many neat and unique illustrations of our relationship with God that we hadn’t seen before. All of the program activities were so fun, even the ones I was a little scared to participate in at first. As usual, club was definitely my favorite part of camp. Screaming the words to our favorite songs, watching the program team make fools out of themselves, and hearing the Gospel in a new light never gets old. See some of my favorite photos from our time at Southwind below!
Since I’m not describing each day of camp (and also just because making videos is so fun), I’ve included a video below! I recommend you watch the video in HD by clicking the HD button in the bottom right corner of the video.
I don’t want to end this post without mentioning my YoungLife leader, Townsend, who moved to my area at the start of my sophomore year. Getting to know Townsend has been such an adventure and such a blessing. Getting to be her “YoungLife kid,” leader trainee turned co-WyldLife leader, Work Crew trainee, and friend has been a definite highlight of my time in high school. The energy and love she pours into me has changed my life. Townsend gave me the opportunity to lead at Carolina Point back in February, then gave me the amazing privilege of coming to Southwind as the only high school age leader from our area this year. Her faith in me and constant support is the only reason I’m anything close to a good leader to these girls. The way she’s loved me throughout my high school career is such a model for me in how I love others and how I love my WyldLife girls. Townsend was in our cabin, Tarpon Point, with me at Southwind and getting to lead the eighth grade girls alongside her was such a joy. I don’t know if she’ll ever read this, but thank you Townsend for shaping me these past two years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you.
Thanks for reading, and more importantly, thank you to the girls of Tarpon Point for the best possible time. I’m so blessed to be a part of your lives.
P.S. – All of my pictures posted during/of my travels on my Instagram are under my hashtag, #farawaywithfaith, so be sure to check that out (or even follow it!) throughout the summer to keep track of my adventures!