Costa Rica – Global Youth Leadership Forum (Third Wave)
Today was the first day in 2015 that I didn’t go for a run or a hike of some sort. It felt weird. But it was an early meeting day (7AM…Ugh) and I had a few things going on (presenting THE JUSTICE MOVEMENT to my peers for the first time) so I gave myself a pass. I’ll be back at it tomorrow morning.
I have to admit. I have never looked forward to sleep so much in my life. (I love you sleep. You are my friend. I don’t want to take you for granted. You make me feel so much better and I really can’t live without you. Thank you for waiting for me at the end of every day.)
Aside from wishing I could sleep for 5 hours every afternoon, I am learning a lot.
Spending this much time in a camp environment has been a good reminder of what makes camps great. Why they’ve always seemed like the sweet spot of youth ministry to me. Being a youth summer camp drastically changed the course of my life. Being a youth leadership event this week is changing me still. I watch teenagers from around the world soak every drop up like sponges and then imagine them squeezing all of that goodness out when they return to their homes. It’s such a beautiful image.
Camps are the places where our hearts can be both healed and broken simultaneously. Where God reveals our purpose, heals our wounds, and breaks us differently—with new eyes we begin to see from the perspective of our personal healing out into the wounds of the world. We learn to pray, “break my heart God for what breaks yours.”
Once we have seen the thing that breaks God’s heart we can unsee or unfeel it. It changes us.
This is our pain and our gift.
It is the port of dreams and the place of potential.
There’s a lot that goes into environments where teenagers can see themselves in a bigger story, where they can feel safe enough to admit their struggles and turn from them, where their motivated to work through doubts, wrestle with fear, and choose courage over quitting.
And camp does a whole lot of that.
Camp gives people space to become.
I wanted to jot down some ingredients that have made this week wonderful. I imagine they work interchangeably in great youth camps worldwide. Maybe you have your own ingredients to add?
- Serious Snacks (camp is not camp without snacks. period.)
- Relevant Bible Teaching (nothing more powerful than God’s Word illustrated, unpacked, explained, and passionately shared)
- Holy Ugly Cries – (those precious and holy moments when we feel each others pain and are truly able to empathize. Ugly cries turn holy when we share them.
- Music Always
- A Few Hours of Sleep (strange and genius things occur when people are operating on little sleep)
- Embarrassingly Fun Games (leveling us all in laughter)
- New Friends (such an adventure)
- Casual Weeping (when you feel so safe in a group that weeping doesn’t feel weird in public. It just feels right)
- Stinking Vulnerability (foot washing actually stinks. Like, ew, bad. But the beauty. The servant leadership. Camp affords it.)
- Prayer and Singing (those nights when everything breaks free and you know you walk away with another layer of you and a heart full of hope)
What are your favorite ingredients of youth event environments?
It was at a summer Youth Camp that I drew close enough to God that I received His call for Ministry. I still remember that night the Summer of 1956 in Florida.