summertime always reminds me of young life....not just young life in general, but young life camp. even as i write this my heart aches because this will be the first summer in six years i won't spend at a young life camp. gosh, this makes me so sad but at the same time it makes me excited because the tide is changing. i am moving forward, onto the next chapter of my life and even though it is scary and i wish so badly i was at a young life camp right now, i know i just have to trust in God's plan for my life.
i think about it often but i've never blogged about how much young life changed my life. i admit, i was of the party, "young life's a cult!!! they're weird," before the summer after my junior year of high school. but the minute i stepped onto Saranac Lake (well...not the actual lake) and two men repelled from the trees, decked out in camo-gear and fake Australian accents, my life has never ever ever ever been the same.
God works so much through young life and sometimes i take it for granted. but i remember how my mind was completely blown when the very first night of camp i was crawling through a mud pit, yelling war-chants with a cabin of girls i barely knew, running and diving and laughing and thinking, 'where the HELL am i?' i remember eating big cookie and thinking 'THIS PLACE IS FREAKING AWESOME.' i remember getting called up to the stage for girls wrestle for guys and having a ridiculous amount of fun taking girls down who i didn't even know as the entire camp watched and cheered. i think of parasailing and being in awe of God's beauty...nature....i remember our camp speaker, Renee, telling me about a God who loved me so much He sent His one and only son to die on a cross for ME....telling me the Creator of the Universe was madly in love with me. i remember meeting summer staff and work crew and thinking 'why are they so nice? why are they so happy?' i remember, let's be honest, how good looking the guys at young life camp were and thinking 'jeeze, what kind of camp is this?'
i remember having my twenty minutes in a field and feeling something pull on my heart, something i couldn't name, feeling like maybe, just maybe i didn't have this life thing figured out. thinking maybe i couldn't do it on my own and i needed something greater, something bigger than myself. i remember hearing the bell to the club room ring and hearing singing and walking in to find the work crew and summer staff singing 'prince of peace' with such pure joy shining through them and i remember crying and thinking 'i want that. whatever they have...that's what i want.'
that week was honestly the best week of my life. and after that i couldn't get enough of young life camp. i went again as a camper and brought my boyfriend at the time, i did summer staff twice, interned last year. i've met some of the most amazing sisters in christ and best friends i've ever had. i've learned so much about myself as a woman and as a person...
i think what i treasure most about young life is community. i didn't have strong community rooted in Christ in high school and then at NYU it was hard to have strong fellowship....but in young life, i got to serve alongside people my own age who were so passionate about the Lord...it was amazing. i miss it so much. jake ousley's song, "stay" pretty much sums of every young life camp experience i've ever had.
"farewell to all these friends,
i hope someday we'll be together again
yeah i hope someday i'm back here.
yeah i know someday i'll be back here.
and i don't know why i love this place so much
but i wanna stay
i don't know why i love these people but i do and i wanna stay
i wanna stay."
* * *
i was just talking to my sister about this yesterday. she is transferring to james madison university and while i am so, SO excited for her, a part of me is jealous. i always think in the back of my head, should i have gone to a college that had a strong young life community? should i have gone somewhere where i could have lived in a house of girls? should i have put aside my desire to pursue acting?
these questions are futile. God isn't about circumstance. God is BIG. i'm moving out to LA and completely trust and believe God will provide me with a community there and i am ready to look for it. i also know that no matter what, even if i went to school somewhere else or got a 9-5 job, i know there would always be something in my heart that yearned to act. it's been a part of me forever.. i'm excited to see how God is going to use it.
going back to young life, the most amazing thing about it all is that young life led me to meet my Savior. it was the platform, the tool that led me to falling in love with Jesus and giving Him my life. young life isn't perfect--no ministry is. but it will forever hold such a special place in my heart because it led me to eternal life.
so even though i am saddened that i won't be standing on a chair, clapping my hands at lunchtime as campers rush into the dining hall....i am so excited for what God is going to do this summer at young life camps everywhere. i am praying for kids to open their hearts and just be blown away by the love of God...i'm praying for leaders, for the assignment teams, for property staff....because young life really is amazing and because God is bigger than any of us can really imagine.
as my girl JJ Heller puts it,
"i don't want to make you small
i don't want to fit you in my pocket
a cross around my throat
you are brighter than the sun
you're closer than the tiny thoughts i have of you,
but i could never fathom you at all."
so good, so true.
haha, i couldn't find any pictures from my first year at camp, but this is my second year. i thought this was silly....right before parasailing. coincidentally (or not so?) i went with rebecca and lindsay to peru two years after this picture was taken...another amazing memory in my pensieve.