OH MY, has it been ages since my last blog post… Tenting for a solid week will do that to you!
Last Friday Jay and I embarked on our church’s youth group spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t over-the-top thrilled at first to be camping with 45 high schoolers for my spring break, but God very quickly turned my attitude around as I got to know these incredible youth.
Aside from the 35-degree nights and a couple rainy days, the sunrises on the beach were beautiful, and we had a blast with these crazy kids! I was impressed by the sense of community they had with one another, always interacting without the exclusive cliques that teenagers tend to form. They truly cared for and loved on one another. What a great group of kids!
Jay was in charge of helping lead the “beach challenges,” and he did a great job. There was a lot of tug-a-war, sand sculpture competition, relay races and sand volleyball tournaments… I was leader of the all-out awesome “Blue Team.” ;-)
We started and ended every day with a message from P. Kary and time for reflective devos and quiet times. These kids got a lot out of the messages, and some met them right where they’re at. Topics included maturing in your faith, resolving conflict, living by the Spirit, and forgiveness. As I mentioned before, these guys have a lot of hard issues they have to deal with, and a week of solid teaching and Biblical fellowship helps equip them for life both now and ahead.
On the last day of the trip, the youth had a chance to stand up and share with the group how God moved in their lives during the week. A dozen or so students shared positive experiences of feeling loved on, accepted, encouraged and inspired by both the leaders and other students alike. A few had recently lost loved ones and drew strength from all the support they received from the group. A couple shared that they never understood what loving God looked like and made a decision that week to follow Christ. One of the girls afterward gave me a big hug and expressed her encouragement by something I had shared earlier in the week. It was so affirming to see how God used our time there and to see the fruit from all the hard work put on by the adults and leaders.
If you have a heart for high schoolers and have never served on a youth trip or camp, I totally encourage you to do so. You’ll be surprised how much God will grow you as well!
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Have you ever served as a leader at one of your church’s youth retreats? What was your experience like?