For a fourth straight year, I had the privilege of being the camp storyteller (aka “speaker”) at Youthfront West camp last week. Once again, I spoke the same week that our own middle schoolers attended camp. I have loved doing this because it gave me a chance to get to know some of our younger students even better. What a great week it was! Packed – nearly 300 campers! Some of my thoughts and highlights from this week:
New perspective – Knowing that a year from now I’ll be on staff at this camp gave me a whole new perspective. When I wasn’t working on my storytelling duties, I used my spare time to interview a bunch of the staff members, soaking up details of how camp works. All of this made my excitement grow for the new role I’ll be playing at Youthfront this fall. One of the favorite things about the Youthfront culture is the emphasis on spiritual formation. Every staff person from the volunteer teen staff through the full timers have moments scheduled throughout the week to gather in groups for the purpose of reading scripture, sharing, and praying together. I can’t wait to be part of this culture and help steward it.
Joseph – This summer’s camp theme is “Finding Life” and goes in depth into the Old Testament story of Joseph. Coincidentally, our church is in the middle of a five week series on Joseph too! So it was fun, personally, to tie these two together, and I am pleased that our students get exposure to the Joseph story from these two different angles. A couple of highlights: 1) Joseph clearly didn’t have his EIQ act together – he was kind of an arrogant jerk when he was a teenager. It’s one of the reasons his brothers hated him. Yet, God still chose him and blessed him for a purpose. And he grew through it. God doesn’t wait until we have our act together in order to bless and choose us. He reaches and invites us to play a part on his team. It’s our choice to join. 2) Forgiveness (something Joseph does at the end of the story) is something very hard for many of us to do. Probably because we believe doing so let’s the person who hurt us off the hook. Forgiveness isn’t about telling the other person that it’s ok. Instead, forgiveness is about releasing the right to get even, something that if we don’t do, will eat us up inside.
Programming – West has a solid program staff this year. Everybody from the sports “guys” to the worship team, to the experience teams rocked it this week! The hype events were solid and exciting, the cabin experiences were meaningful, and the gatherings ran smoothly. I can’t wait to lead this team next year! Highlights – 1) Alien invaders night was cool. I liked the puzzley aspect to it, especially the coded message that played over the intercom system at regular intervals. Plus “analog” Space Invaders was over-the-top cool. 2) Angry Birds on the big screen was a nice feature! 3) And finally, I love the surpise element on midnight madness night: “Campers, it’s time to head to bed…never mind…we’re having a DANCE PARTY in the dining hall!” Good times.
Board Games – For the past four years, I bring some games with me for student to trying during free time. The two hits this week were Tsuro and Kingdom Builder (by the guy who made Dominion). Each game got played three or four times each afternoon. One afternoon, I got to join a few staffers for a game of The Resistance (a Mafia or Werewolf type game without elimination, which is why I like it.)
Kyron and Raylee – One of the best parts of the week was having each of my kids stay one of the nights with me at camp. They loved it, and it was fun getting to spend a little alone time with each of them. They are so excited to live at the camp next summer, the giant waterslide being one of the many perks in their mind about my new role.