Back in January, I spent a long, four-day weekend at our local Christian camp with about 20 of the junior higher from our church’s youth group. I have been volunteering within this ministry for almost two years now and absolutely love my time with them each Tuesday night. They are a fearless and rowdy bunch of students so I jumped at the opportunity to spend this weekend with them.
By way of recapping the weekend, I thought I would share some highlights and takeaways, things that these amazing students unintentionally taught me throughout the weekend.
1. Fearlessness. Whether it’s with a big zip line or passionate expressions of worship, these students are fearless. They approached each aspect of the weekend with zeal and excitement. During free time each day, the girls I hung out with wanted to hike across the little river, ride the giant swing, dance around campus, and participate in the extreme course. Saturday night’s chapel was different than the previous chapels – instead of the camp speaker sharing, the entire night was devoted to different physical expressions of worship. The camp director spoke of David dancing undignified before God, what the significance is to raising hands in surrender, and how bowing down before the Lord is an act of reverent surrender. And man, these students went for it – a beautiful image of God’s spirit at work. They prayed bold prayers, engaged in good conversations, and tried to soak up every minute of the camp experience.
2. Life Doesn’t Have To Be So Serious. These students are crazy! I had a group of girls who loved to pause every so often and burst out in random song, once again fearless to what those around them might be thinking. They danced with enthusiasm in worship and told stories and jokes waiting in line for different activities. Sure, we had great conversations and times of prayer, but I was reminded that often times I equate God at work with “serious things”. But God is also a God of joy and freedom and praise! There was a lightheartedness that these girls approached the weekend with and it was so refreshing.
3. Find Joy in the Little Things. Each of these three things are certainly all connected and it made for quite the fun weekend! These students taught me so much about loving life, laughing a lot, and soaking up each opportunity given. Even though we all were running on low sleep and too much sugar, taking an afternoon nap was the furthest thing from their minds. Instead, they wanted to throw snow balls, tell stories around the camp fire, and drink yet another milkshake from the camp’s cafe. We laughed a lot, slipped in the snow (our southern California bodies are not using to walking in the ice!) and spontaneously sang more songs.
Like I said, we had little sleep but it was such a wonderful weekend. I absolutely love working with junior highers – they are at such a fun age of spiritual maturity, desiring a relationship with God, and incredible joy, vulnerability, and humor.
// Do you have any experience working with those in junior high? What’s been your favorite experience?