Southwind WyldLife Summer Camp Travel Diary 2018

     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.

This video was created using iMovie.  All the clips were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and a Canon EFS 18-55mm lens.  The background song is “By Your Side” by Jonas Blue featuring RAYE.

     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.

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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!

Off to Saranac Village

     As you can see from the title, I’m going off the grid yet again.  Tomorrow I’m flying to Saranac Lake, New York for Work Crew at YoungLife’s camp, Saranac Village!  I’m so excited to serve for four weeks with lots of friends I haven’t even met yet and without technology distracting me.  However, I hate leaving y’all without new content so I’ve made some arrangements!

     One of my favorite things about blogging is the community of sweet girls I’ve met, and five of them will be helping me post while I’m away!  I’ve scheduled lots of posts to go up throughout the time that I’m gone, but each of these girls have also written their own posts that will go up on my blog!  Emma from Simply IntrospectiveBrooke from Live the Prep Life, Cayleigh from CNPrepster, Olivia from Absolutely Olivia, and McKenzie from Styled by McKenz will all be guest posting on my blog and taking over my Instagram account at one point or another over these next four weeks!  I’m so excited for y’all to read their posts, they’re awesome and I know you’ll love them as much as I do!

     Now, more about Work Crew, because I want y’all to know all about it and pray for me!  I’m going to be what YoungLife has nicknamed a “tawashie,” or part of the housekeeping crew.  I’ll be spending the next four weeks cleaning bathrooms, folding blankets, and helping with lots of other odd jobs.  While that might not sound like the most fun way to spend a month of my summer, doing it in a place as gorgeous as Saranac Village, with people as kind and fun as the other Work Crew kids I’m about to meet, and for a God as good as the one I serve sounds like the best thing I could possibly be doing with my summer.  Several of my YoungLife leaders did Work Crew at various other YoungLife camps while they were in high school and they’re all so excited for me and have spent the past few months telling me just how much fun I’m going to have.  I truly could not possibly be more thrilled to have this opportunity to spend a whole month on a YoungLife property serving God by helping other high schoolers have the same experience I had when I spent a week at YoungLife summer camp at Frontier Ranch in Colorado last summer.  Aside from serving in the form of cleaning and other manual labor, I’ll also be sharing my testimony with kids at camp.  I’m definitely most nervous about this aspect of Work Crew, because while I’m confident in my story and don’t struggle to share my life in writing like I do here, I’m an awful public speaker.  I know my testimony has the potential to impact the kids I share it with, but I’m afraid I won’t present it the right way because I’ll panic.  Please pray for my time at Work Crew and travels in general, but I’d especially like to ask you to pray for the sharing of my testimony.  I need God to ease my nerves and speak through me.

Thanks for reading!  See y’all when I get back!  Look forward to a post (hopefully including a video!) about my experience at Saranac sometime when I get back.

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Off to Southwind

     This post is nothing formal, just a little explanation of what’s going to be happening on my blog and Instagram this weekend!  I’m so excited to be heading to Southwind, a YoungLife camp in Ocklawaha, Florida, for Wyldlife camp this weekend (Thursday to Monday)!  If you’re unfamiliar with Wyldlife, it’s YoungLife’s (the Christian ministry targeted at teenagers which I’m super involved in – read more about their mission here) middle school ministry.  Similarly to how YoungLife is largely led by college students, most of my area’s Wyldlife leaders are high school students, myself included!  I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to lead at summer camp this year and I could not be more thrilled to have the chance to travel to another one of YoungLife’s gorgeous properties with my area’s sweet middle schoolers!  Our time at camp will include lots of fun activities like swimming in a pool and lake, watching hilarious skits, eating amazing food, experiencing a ton of awesome surprises, and learning more about a relationship with God.  Going to a YoungLife camp entails lack of access to technology (excluding cameras) for the duration of our time at camp to exclude distractions from the purpose of going to camp.  That means I physically won’t be able to post on my Instagram or blog while I’m gone, but someone else can!

     While I’m away, I have Cali from A Touch of Southern Style (@atouchofsouthernstyle on Instagram) taking over my Instagram for me (she’ll be posting my pictures I’ve scheduled for her) and I’ve scheduled two blog posts (including my June playlist and a new Scripture Sunday) to go up Friday and Sunday while I’m gone!  Cali is so sweet to do this for me and I know y’all will love her, so definitely check out her Instagram and blog!

     Blogging aside, I would really appreciate your prayers this (long) weekend!  I’m stoked to have the opportunity to be used by God at Southwind and I want to be the very best leader I can be.  Please pray that God would ease my nerves, help me interact well and form strong relationship with my girls at camp, and use me to model a healthy relationship with Him.  I’m definitely more excited than nervous about leading at Wyldlife camp this time around, but I still want to be sure I’m serving as a window to God for the kids at camp, not a window to me.

Thanks for reading, see y’all when I get back!  Look forward to a post (hopefully including a video!) about my experience at Southwind!  Have a great weekend!

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Carolina Point WyldLife Weekend Travel Diary 2018

     The weekend of February 23rd through 25th I had the privilege of traveling to YoungLife’s Brevard, NC camp, Carolina Point, with my area’s WyldLife group as a leader.  This was my first time going to camp as a leader and it was so neat to see the other side of things!  I loved getting to know all the sweet girls in my cabin better and watching them grow in their relationships with God as the weekend progressed.  Today I’m sharing the weekend’s happenings as well as a video in a travel diary!  I recommend you watch the video in HD by clicking the HD button in the bottom right corner of the video.  Enjoy!

This video was created using iMovie.  All the clips were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and a Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM lens.  The background song is “Feel Good” by Felix Jaehn and Mike Williams.

Friday

     Friday night we arrived around 9:45 p.m. and shortly after dropping my bags in one of  the eighth girls’ cabins I ran with my area’s leaders to the leader lounge for a meeting.  In this meeting we were introduced to all of the weekend’s authoritative roles, including the speaker, camp director, program staff (aka the hilarious people who put on skits and organize the games for club), property staff, and more.  In this meeting we also discussed the schedule for the night and Saturday morning.  After a series of introductions and prayers for the exciting weekend ahead, we were dismissed and joined our middle school friends in front of the club room to anticipate club’s start.  About fifteen minutes later, music began to play and the club doors open.  During club we screamed and danced to a few songs, played games, and heard the talk.  The opening club’s talk focused on the things we pursue instead of focusing on God and the idea that maybe we were meant to pursue the one who created these things.  Following club was the opening cabin time, which was honestly a bit awkward for my cabin (as the first night’s cabin time often is).  Cabin time ended around midnight, so we prepared for bed pretty quickly and went to sleep soon after.

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Saturday

     I woke up around 7:30 a.m. and quietly got ready for the day (my cabin was still sleeping!) before heading to my leader meeting at 8:00 a.m.  In this meeting we picked kids for the games that would take place in club and discussed the planned happenings for the day up to dinner.  When the meeting ended, we went to the dining hall to claim our area’s tables at our first meal at camp.  I have to admit, standing on chairs and dancing to get kids to my table at each meal was one of my favorite parts of the weekend.  If you’ve ever been to YoungLife camp you know that as soon as the dining hall doors open every camper sprints to their leader’s table as though the table was going to stand up and run away.  It was so fun to see that excitement from a different perspective!  We ate some delicious pancakes and the best sausage (anyone else not like sausage unless it’s at YoungLife camp?) while watching the hilarious skit.  After breakfast it was time for the cabin challenge!  Our cabin did an array of activities, including leapfrogging around the pool, push-ups, dancing to YMCA on the dock, and trust falls from the stage to compete for the coveted cabin challenge winning title.

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     When the challenge ended, we went to the club room to wait for the morning club.  I distinctly remember the song selection Saturday morning being so good, including mashups of cartoon theme songs (the Phineas and Ferb theme is such a jam, don’t lie) and the “Banana Song.”  This club talk was one that’s always hardest to hear, the reminder that we are sinners and that there is nothing we can do to redeem ourselves.  In my now five trips to YoungLife camp, I’ve seen kids of all ages struggle with accepting this fact that without Christ’s crucifixion (which isn’t discussed until the Saturday night club at weekend camp) we are helpless.  That being said, the cabin time following this club proved frustrating for some of our girls (expected), but also brought up a lot about where they see Sin in their own lives.  At the conclusion of cabin time, we had about half an hour of free time before lunch.  Lunch was super good as usual (although I forgot what we ate, oops) and the skit led into field games!  Field games included a few fun games I don’t know how to name, a huge tug of war, and flour bombs (which I luckily dodged thanks to having my camera in hand).

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     The end of field games marked the beginning of free time, so I quickly rushed to the cabin with a few of my eighth grade girls to grab our wallets before heading to the camp store. Somehow I managed to buy just one tee shirt and a sticker this trip (that’s a huge accomplishment for a tee shirt lover like me!), but the line was super long so the camp store easily ate up an hour of our free time.  After taking our purchases back to the cabin, we went on the hike with a couple of our area’s head leaders.  The hike was a lot of work but the view was so worth it.  Atop the mountain, we took a few minutes in silence to just talk to God and marvel in the fact that despite His creation of the gorgeous peaks in front of us, He still sees us as His most beautiful creation.  We took a few photos before heading back down the mountain.

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     When we got back to camp, I took a quick shower then hung out with a few girls for half an hour or so before dinner.  We had the best lasagna, green beans, and bread for dinner while watching the climax of the skit.  For dessert we had big cookie, but this weekend they prepared a “s’mores big cookie!”  The famously sweet dish included graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate syrup in addition to the traditional giant, gooey cookie.  After dinner I returned to the leader lounge for another meeting in which we discussed the plans for the night and worshipped as a large group.  When the meeting concluded, I reunited with my area’s girls in front of the club room.  Club was again filled with a ton of fun games, funny skits, and a great talk about the crucifixion of Jesus.  At the end of the club talk, the campers were given an opportunity to silently find a seat around camp and write a letter to God for fifteen minutes.  If you’ve ever been to YoungLife camp, we do something similar (fifteen minutes of silence to talk to God with all of camp’s lights out), but having never gone to camp as a Wyldlife kid it was really neat for me to experience this different take on the fifteen minutes.  When the fifteen minutes ended, the bell rang and we went to cabin time.  My head leader asked me to lead this cabin time, and this particular cabin time after the crucifixion talk and fifteen minutes is always my favorite as a camper so I was so nervous to lead it.  We spent cabin time asking and answering questions about beginning a relationship with Jesus based on the club talk and discussing what the campers though and wrote about during their fifteen minutes.  The five-minutes-to-club bell signaled the end of cabin time and I ran down to the club room with my eighth grade girls.  This particular club included a few “minute to win it” games, the conclusion of the skit series, and a super fun dance party filled with glow sticks and lots of whipping and jujuing.  When the dance party was over I headed over to the Mason Jar (snack bar) with my best friend and co-leader Cammie to purchase some Cheerwine slushies and ice cream.  After we finished our snacks we returned to our cabins and went to bed.

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Sunday

     Sunday morning my head leader, Townsend, woke me around 8:00 a.m. up with a stack of area tee shirts for my cabin.  I passed out the tee shirts as the girls slowly got up in preparation for 9:00 a.m. breakfast (on the last day of YoungLife camp everyone wears their area shirts!).  Breakfast consisted of lots of cereal, biscuits, and good conversations. After breakfast we returned to the cabin for cabin cleanup, in which we finished packing, took out the trash, folded all the blankets, and swept.  As soon as we finished cleaning we went outside to take lots of pictures before our area meeting!  I have to say, we got quite a few adorable shots, I wish I was that cute in middle school!  Our photoshoots ended when it was time for lunch, a delicious platter of chicken sandwiches and French fries.  We watched the meal skit’s conclusion as we finished dinner then packed the bus and headed home.

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I’m so grateful I had this amazing opportunity to lead some of the sweetest middle schoolers around!  If you have the chance to attend or lead at a YoungLife camp, trust me, you should go!  You can read about a few of my other YoungLife camp experiences herehere, and here.  Thanks for reading!

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Windy Gap Travel Diary 2017

     I spent the weekend of September 22-24 at Windy Gap, a YoungLife camp in Weaverville, NC.  I love few things more than going to YoungLife camp and this year’s fall weekend definitely didn’t disappoint.  Today I’m sharing a little travel diary from one of my favorite weekends of the year!  I’m so excited to share this with you, I skipped writing a Windy Gap travel diary last year (I wrote a travel diary about Windy Gap in 2015 that you can read here!) but I seriously love talking about time spent at YoungLife camp.  I’m recapping each day with lengthy descriptions and photos plus I actually made a video this year!  I recommend you watch the video in HD by clicking the HD button in the bottom right corner of the video.  Enjoy!

This video was created using iMovie.  All of the clips were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and either an EF-S 18-55mm lens or a Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM lens.  The background song is “The World Is Ours” by Jai Wolf.

Friday

    The bus left around 9:45 p.m., just after halftime of our high school’s homecoming football game.  The bus ride was approximately an hour and a half of screaming the words to throwback songs and talking under blankets.  We got to camp around 11:45 p.m., just in time for the first club!  We sprinted to the club room as soon as we dropped our bags in the cabins.  Even in the rush, I love getting off the bus in the dark at Windy Gap and I couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous navy sky of stars behind the silhouettes of the tall trees.

     We came into club a little late but came just in time to watch a hilarious skit, sing a couple songs, and send some kids from our area up to the stage to participate in a few games.  The first night’s talk was about how we can’t fix the mess our sin has created and the speaker was amazing all weekend long.  After club, we went back to the cabin for cabin time.

     During cabin time, we talked about the talk and what we learned/found interesting.  I love cabin time, it’s always one of my favorite things about YoungLife camp.  Cabin time gives you a chance to verbally process what you’re learning about Jesus, yourself, and your relationship with Him while getting to know your friends better.  Once cabin time concluded we all got ready for bed and went to sleep.

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Saturday

     Knowing that breakfast was around 9:00 a.m., I woke up at 8:00 a.m. and quickly got ready for the day.  Once I was prepared for one of my favorite days of the fall, I took my friend Emma, who was experiencing Windy Gap for the first time, on a little walk around camp.  I showed her the gorgeous willow tree (literally my favorite tree on this planet), the Sippin’ Parlor where you can find the best birthday cake milkshakes ever, club room entrances, the dining hall, the camp store, and how to get to the zip-line and swing.  After we finished this little tour, we returned to the cabin to walk down to the dining hall with the rest of our friends and leaders to wait for breakfast.  While anticipating breakfast, we took a few pictures.

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     For breakfast we had delicious pancakes and some really good sausage (I don’t even really like sausage but I love YoungLife camp sausage, I swear it’s way better).  Towards the end of breakfast, a continuation of the skit that we saw Friday night introduced the cabin challenge.  The cabin challenge is a list of activities each cabin completes in an approximately ten minute time period for points in competition with the other cabins.  These activities included rolling down the hill, sliding into the lake fully clothed, making a basket from mid-court, and doing ten pushups.  We didn’t win, but the cabin challenge is always super fun, we’ve done it every year I’ve gone to YoungLife camp!

     After the cabin challenge we had about twenty minutes of free time before club.  Club was pretty much the same as the night before; more skits, more games, and more songs.  The talk was great again, talking about the separation from God that our sin has created. The end of club led into cabin time, where we returned to the cabin and again discussed what we heard.  Cabin time ended with the five minute bell, meaning we had five minutes until lunch.

     Lunch included pepperoni and cheese pizza.  The skit continued at the end of the meal and led us into our free time.  Free time was spent packing everything Windy Gap has to offer into a six hour time period.  As soon as lunch was released, I sprinted to the back door of the dining hall with a few of my friends and from there we ran up to the swing.  I love the swing, it puts any other swing imaginable to complete shame.  Once my friend Came and I got off the swing, we changed into bathing suits and zip-lined into the lake.  After the zip-line we went back to the cabin to shower before going to the camp store where I bought a tee and YoungLife blanket (if you don’t have a YoungLife blanket you need to buy one next time you go to camp, they’re made out of the softest sweatshirt material and are very possibly the best thirty dollars you’ll ever spend).  Next we hit the Sippin’ Parlor, where I ordered my annual birthday cake milkshake and it was just as delicious as always.  We enjoyed our milkshakes under the gorgeous oak tree and then took a few pictures on the adorable little island.

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     A couple hours after our little photoshoot, the five minute bell rang and we all ran to the dining hall again.  While we waited a little longer than five minutes we took even more pictures with some of our leaders.  I switched camera lenses in our final minutes of free time before dinner and I just love how these pictures came out!

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     I honestly forgot what we even had for dinner because the memory was overshadowed by the fact that we had the big cookie for dessert.  If you’ve never been to a YoungLife camp this might sound foreign to you, but big cookie is a huge cookie served in a circular pan fresh out of the oven with a ton of vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup on top.  It’s so good that no one stops to divide it evenly, everyone just digs in with a spoon.  It’s so much fun and it’s so good.  Once we finished eating the big cookie we met up with our area by the basketball court to get our area tee shirts that we’d be wearing the next day (you’ll see we’re all wearing matching navy tee shirts in the pictures from Sunday and that’s why!) before having a little free time before club.

     The final evening club of YoungLife camp is always my favorite, whether it’s fall weekend or a week at summer camp.  This particular club is used to describe Christ’s death on the cross in immense depth, the kind of depth that makes you wince.  Once the crucifixion is explained, campers are gifted with a fifteen minute period of silence and darkness in camp.  You get to pick a spot, then you just sit and stare at the stars and talk to God.  I love this, I always have.  At this point I’m always reminded of my amazement that the same God that made those stars made me, and even though He blessed me with all of this I still sin and turn my back to Him, yet He still wants me.

     Once the fifteen minutes were up, a bell rang and the camp turned the lights back on.  We all walked back to our cabin for the most personal and emotional of the cabin times.  This year’s wasn’t nearly as tear-jerking as some of my past years’ cabin times have been, but it was equally as eye-opening.  When cabin time concluded, we were led back to the club room where some of the leaders from various counties present that weekend were putting on skits.

     These were some of the absolute funniest things I have ever seen, my stomach hurt from laughing so much.  At the end of the skits, we had a big camp dance party and were then told that Tim Halperin, our camp musician for the weekend, would be having a little concert in the club room about an hour later.  Tim Halperin was so good (he was actually on American Idol at one point, be sure to check him out on iTunes!), I especially love his song “Hey 17.”  His concert ended the night, so when it was over we walked back to our cabins and got ready for bed.

Sunday

     I woke up at 7:00 a.m. to go on a little walk with one of my YoungLife leaders, Adrian, before her morning leader meeting.  We ended up sitting in rocking chairs in front of the Sippin’ Parlor and reading the Bible.  It was so nice to have some one on one time with Adrian and to just open up the word!  Around 7:45 a.m., Adrian had to go to her meeting so I walked back to the cabin and began to change into my area tee shirt and actually get ready for the day.

     Around 8:30 a.m. our cabin walked down to the dining hall to get some coffee and wait for breakfast.  Our delicious breakfast included biscuits, eggs, grits, and bacon.  When breakfast was over, we went to the club room for “say so’s.”  Say so’s are a little period of time in the club room with some music playing in which campers who have accepted/recommitted to Christ can stand up and say so.  I love getting to clap for and congratulate my friends and all the other campers who are making such a big step!

     Once say so’s finished, we went back to the cabin to clean up and pack.  When we finished cleaning and packing we took all of our bags to the bus then returned to the basketball court to hang out with the rest of the people from our area.  We then went to the leader lounge for an area meeting before taking a group picture of everyone from our area in front of the camp store.  Shortly after, the five minute bell rang for lunch.

     For lunch we had sandwiches and some really good chocolate chip cookies.  The skit concluded on stage as we ate and once we finished eating we walked up to the buses to leave.  It was such an awesome weekend and I was so sad to see it end!

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If you ever get the chance to go to YoungLife camp you need to go!  You can read about a couple of my other YoungLife camp experiences here and here.  Thanks for reading!

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You Were Made For This; How YoungLife Has Changed the Way I Look at Christianity

     Happy Sunday!  There’s no “Scripture Sunday” this week, but there’s something else I’d like to share.  I think you all know by now that I’m a devout Christian.  I love God and over the past couple of years I feel like I’ve strengthened my relationship with Him a lot.  I have done this through Bible studies, confirmation classes, and especially YoungLife.  Today I wanted to share with you what, in my opinion, is the most important and overlooked thing about Christianity.  I came across this idea because it’s actually YoungLife’s slogan; “you were made for this.”

     I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people who aren’t Christian assume that most Christians fall into one of a two categories; “perfect”-goody-two-shoes kind of people who never seem to do anything wrong or not so great (meaning rude, condescending, etc.) people who think they’re perfect.  While there are obviously some people who fall into each of these stereotypes, many Christians aren’t like either at all.  Not every Christian refrains from cussing, lying, stealing, underage drinking, drug use, etc. and while those are certainly not good things, they don’t make them incapable of being loved by God.

     No one, not even the biggest bully at your school, not even that girl who seems to be with a new boy every week, is anymore unworthy of God’s love than I am or you are.  The thing is, God’s love is greater than any love any of us have ever had for anyone.  Greater than the love you feel for your boyfriend, greater than the love you feel for your siblings, and even greater than the love that your parents feel for you.  Given the extreme love He gives and the horrible condition of sin that we as human beings have on our hearts, none of us are really “worthy” of His love.  Despite our faults and resistance, He wants to love us unconditionally anyways.  He loves us so much that He sent His only son to die the most painful, humiliating death so we don’t have to pay the ultimate price ourselves.

     Out of this magnificent love, He created this wonderful world for us to enjoy.  He gave us feet to explore it with and eyes to see it with.  Along with the sun, the stars, the oceans, the mountains and all of those other incredible things, He thought the world needed some of us too, so He created us.  You and I were carefully crafted for a purpose.  You might already know what your purpose, you might think you have an idea of what it is, or you might have no idea at all.  Even if you don’t know what your purpose is, never forget that you have one.  The most important thing you can be is loved by Him.  There is only one you and God created you for this earth just like He created the sun for this solar system or His son for us.  You are so important to His plan.

     That brings me to another stereotype of Christianity.  Many people believe that Christians just go to church, read the Bible, and pray all the time.  First of all, I’d like to say that those things are all great and don’t have to be “boring” at all.  That aside, that’s not all that Christians do.  A life with Christ is not a boring, confined one.  It’s a beautiful, free, fulfilled life of adventure.  That’s what you and I were made for.  You were made to ace that test, to score that goal, to climb that mountain, to travel to that country, to sing along at that concert, to eat that legendary cake, to live your life to the fullest.  You were made for a life of fun with Christ by your side.

     My relationship with Christ has been strengthened so much since I realized that He designed me to live this life of adventure.  I love to travel and explore all of the beautiful places He has created.  I love getting home from a concert and feeling so happy and blessed that He has given me the opportunity to go and enjoy myself so much.  Since I’ve started to read my Bible more and allow His love to pour into my life the way it was meant to, I have become so much happier.  I encourage you to look at your life and His love this way too, it really changes everything.

     As much as I absolutely love living life with Christ, it’s important to note that just because you’re leading a life with Him doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.  Following God won’t prevent your life from tragedies and hardships, but it will make these awful things a little easier.  Being able to turn to Scripture, prayer, and fellow God-loving friends and family members can become your best medicine for difficult times.  Having a relationship with God will comfort you in knowing that He has already painted the beautiful picture that is your whole life and you’re only looking at one little corner that might seem messy.

     YoungLife has played a huge role in demonstrating not only what this wild life of love and adventure can look like for me, but also what getting through struggles with God by my side can look like for me.  “How could a Christian youth group really be that much fun and simultaneously that informative?” you might ask.  Well, each club is approximately an hour spent playing super fun and hilarious games, watching leaders and peers participate in hysterical skits, hearing super cheesy jokes, singing both currently popular music and classic Christian songs, dancing like no one is watching, and hearing the Gospel.  This takes place every Monday night during the school year and is honestly the best part of my week.  Outside of YoungLife, I hang out with a few of my college-aged leaders a couple times a week.  While many high school students think it’s so “cool” to hang out with college kids that often drink around/with them and do other not so positive things, YoungLife has provided high school students with college kids who love Jesus and are just all around good influences.  My leaders are always there for me, whether I’m having problems with my parents, friends, school, you name it and I have cried to a YoungLife leader about it.  What’s so neat about these connections is that YoungLife leaders are the best secret keepers and give the greatest advice.  Plus, they usually have some Scripture that they know will help you out.

     YoungLife also has camps around the world that local YoungLife groups take their students to in the fall or winter and summer.  These camps are jam-packed with fun activities including crazy games, zip-lining, swimming, horseback riding, and mountain rappelling as well as opportunities to improve your relationship with your friends, leaders, and God.  Camp always makes me feel so refreshed and tremendously impacted.  YoungLife camp has really painted a vivid picture for me of what that adventurous relationship with Christ looks like.  As the new school year and the start of YoungLife approaches, I beg you to at least try YoungLife club.  It will seriously change your life for the better.

Thanks for reading!  Don’t forget, you were made for this.

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P.S. – Yes, I know this post might just seem like a big YoungLife ad, but it’s something I’ve really wanted to share with you.  I don’t know about you, but when I find something really great I love to share it with my friends and family so they can experience it too.  I think of y’all as my friends too in a sense and I wouldn’t want to keep something from you that has the potential to bring you so much joy and fulfillment.  That makes sense, right?