Monday, July 9, 2012

reflections on youth camp

Youth Camp is always good. There is something powerful about getting away from technology, from routine, from outside influences- even family and friends- to focus on God. 

Of course it's overwhelmingly hot and the food isn't the best and there's never enough sleep.

(supplies we took)

But God continually uses this time to teach us, convict us, encourage us and reveal Himself to us! 

This was my third year going to Youth Week at Alto Frio with my youth group. It was also my second year operating not only as the leader of my group, but also on the team putting on camp.  I knew what to expect, and this year I was smart and got another girls sponsor to go so that I wouldn't feel responsible to stay with them at all times. Instead of staying in the cabins, I got a motel room at the conference center (holla!), which also served as a storage place for all of the extra snacks and drinks we brought. (I had to rethink that choice when someone came by after lights-out looking for Pop-Tarts)

(on my hotel bed, with a Toms tan, and our snacks in the background)

So, as a sponsor and member of the camp team I kinda had to remove myself from the emotional side of camp to supervise. I had to be aware of what was going on with my students, the schedule and my responsibilities for the services. I had to be sure to capture through pictures the activities we had, so that parents would understand why youth camp is such a big deal. I was checking that all campers adhered to the dress code. I had to be available to counsel during invitation time, to remember worship song lyrics off the top of my head when the tech guy needed to input a new song last minute, and to give announcements to the campers at a moments' notice. And so, honestly, I was looking forward to seeing God speak into the lives of my students... but not expecting for Him to speak to me. 

And God DID speak to each and every students. Of the ten who attended with me, every one of them came away changed. Saved. Convicted and forgiven. Recommitted to their purpose. Called to something great. 

Natalia accepted Christ for the first time. 
(in the center)

Betsaida and Jadzia felt God's call to be missionaries. 

and Yalani felt called to student ministry in the future!
(on the right)

To be part of this journey with each of them is humbling and encouraging.

What I didn't expect was for God to speak to me- the leader- at youth camp. On Wednesday night, our speaker spoke especially to the sponsors during a closing prayer time. He asked for any sponsors that needed prayer for anything in their life to go to one side of the room and for the other sponsors to pray over them. So I prayed over sponsors. And then I prayed over students. And then I started preparing what we would do in our church time that immediately followed the service. As we exited the tabernacle and headed to my motel room, I started thinking about what I would have asked for prayer for if I had gone up. A heavy burden weighed upon my shoulders, like carrying boulder on my back. Then, it just hit me how emotionally and even mentally that I had separated myself from what God was speaking that week. 

So, when my group got to the room, I asked if they would pray for me. Because I'm terrified to move away, even though I know it's what God has for me. I'm scared that I won't make friends or have enough money ever or maintain my current relationships or do well in school. I'm scared that nobody will be able to reach my Austin students like I have and their spiritual lives will suffer. But even worse, I'm scared that they'll find someone so much better to fill this position that they'll wonder why they've had me hired all this time. 

(I totally understand that I sound completely overdramatic. I agree.) 

And so, one by one my students and sponsors lifted me up before the Lord. And there I sat in a puddle of my tears (and snot), and felt the hand of God over all of us. I felt His presence burden me with my purpose for leaving and promising to be with this group when I leave. 

God spoke to me right in the middle of youth camp. It was awesome. 

You see, this step in my life is a lot like the zipline we did.
When I give in to fear, all I'm doing is looking down. 
Seeing how far I can fall.

but if I trust God 
and do what He's called me to do
I can just take that step of faith and enjoy the ride 

And I think I'd rather let go, than just stand on this ledge and be anxious. 
I'd rather have faith than fear.

Grace Laced Mondays
Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters


  1. Thanks for sharing!!! This is absolutely amazing. I'll be praying for you as you continue your ministry. Where was this camp?

  2. Chelsea,
    What a powerful post! Now I'm sitting her in a puddle of tears. You are an inspirational leader, and I am so proud of what you are doing! Keep up the amazing work, and keep your ears open!

    Diana White

  3. You are amazing! You should be very proud of all you do - you have so many amazing kiddos looking up to you ;) Keep it up! Thanks so much for sharing your story and for linking up with us! Have a wonderful, new week.

  4. Some of my favorite memories as a teen centered around Youth camp. They always were such an awesome part of the summer. Good luck with your next steps. I hope the camp was as beneficial to you as it was to them!

  5. Oh friend, what an amazing trip. I just want you to know how amazing a role model you are to these young people. You just shine for Jesus. I can't wait to meet you in person!! Praying for you and your precious ministry :)

  6. My hubby used to be a youth and college pastor. It was some of the most memorable times in our ministry lives!

  7. So I'm a month late commenting, but I love this story! Thanks so much for sharing what Father has been doing in your heart. He loves to just knock us upside the head like that when we've been tuning him out, doesn't he? ;-) (in a very, very good way!)


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