Well, I survived! I actually slept in a tent (sort of), roasted my dinner over a fire, and endured a torrential downpour on the way to the bathroom.
All in all, I loved it. I learned some amazing things, too.
1. It’s emotional. I forgot how full of zeal and joy young people are. I forgot how raw their emotions are–both good and bad. I forgot how deeply they experience God. For example, during one my first conversations, a girl shared about a hard situation in her life. I said, “That must be so hard.”
She said, “It was until I met Jesus.” I listened to some high school volunteers talk about their devotional lives and how they study the Bible together before school. They love to talk about their love for Jesus in such passionate ways. No cynicism! Such hope!
2. I’m the adult. Sometimes I don’t actually feel very adult. When you work with young people, however, you are the adult. I found myself responsible for driving, getting gas, tending to emergencies like a shampoo bottle that exploded inside someone’s duffle bag, answering all the questions, cleaning, providing food, etc. It’s so good to be in a situation that has nothing to do with me; in fact, you surrender your rights to sleep and good coffee on trips like this. You can’t insist on your own way. Camping with the youth group exposes any selfish tendency and invites me to die to myself. I grew up a little last weekend.
3. I won’t avoid hard things in the name of comfort. I’ll be honest: it wasn’t pure bliss the whole time. I entered right into it, though. I let God provide what I needed in the midst of it. When I returned home, I threw myself on my bed and said, “I’m never doing that again! I’m so tired!”
But I didn’t mean it. I will do it again.
4. Youth pastors are the most amazing people in the world for what they do. That’s all.
I loved loving those young people, listening to them, and learning from them. My daughter enjoyed having me with her, and for that, I’m perhaps the most thankful.