Summer is a time of rest and relaxation, of having as little stress as possible. Therefore, it seems rather odd why anyone would want to spend their Summer vacation being a Youth Leader for a church camp. I mean on a surface level, it can seem a lot like babysitting with a whole lot of sleep deprivation. Yet, coming back from my second year as a leader for my church's summer camp, I can tell you that there is so much more to it than that. There is such a genuine growth that comes from leading students younger than you that is almost feels like a right of passage into young adulthood. To all my fellow Summer Staff leaders, this is for you.
1. Trying to break the ice between you and new students
"So.. you guys like dank memes, right? That's a thing you youngsters like, isn't it? Dat Boi, amiright? No? Okay."
2. When you realize you and your students like a lot of the same things
You'd be surprised how much you can bond with people over Pokemon Go and Vines.
3. When it's time to get serious and discuss but you're having trouble establishing leadership
Before you know it it turns into a hostage negotiation:
"P l e a s e ...for the love of all that is h o l y - I will give you whatever you want, I will meet your demands -- just let me have 5 solid minutes of discussion!
4. When you have those few students you just have to babysit and you gotta be slow to anger, like Jesus
"Just deep breaths... inhale...exhale...INHALE...EXHALE."
5. That feeling when you find that one student who you want to grow a deeper student/mentor relationship with
The feeling can only be best described as a Jedi taking a Padawan under their wing to train them; like Yoda and Luke Skywalker, but with more Jesus.
6. When you suddenly realize that camp is only in a few days
Thank God that college prepared me for the coming sleep deprivation that comes with summer camp.
7. When camp finally comes and it's time to board the bus to leave
THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I REPEAT. NOT. A. DRILL.
8. When the youth pastor is driving the bus like he's on the last lap on Mario Kart and you start to wonder if today is the day when you're gonna meet Jesus
JESUS PLEASE, JUST TAKE THE WHEEL. TAKE IT FROM OUR YOUTH PASTOR'S NEED-FOR-SPEED HANDS.
9. When you get to camp and can't find all the luggage you brought because it's ALL THROWN INTO A MASSIVE PILE.
It's really difficult trying to find the brand new ENO hammock I brought when literally EVERYONE else brought the same one -- same color and all.
10. Getting settled into the bunk beds, praying that those old things don't shatter while you're asleep
Seriously, those wooden death traps look like they could seal my fate at any moment..
11. Waking up early the next morning and trying to stay awake and attentive
At this point, my body is solely relying on the power of 5 cups of coffee and the Holy Spirit.
12. Realizing how much walking/running you have to do to just get from one place to the next
With all the walking, I was surprised there wasn't a wizard and two Hobbits escorting me to Mordor.
13. When it's finally free time and all you want to do is rest
Though it's only been a day, I'm ready to sleep for a good, few years.
14. Realizing you still have a whole week left
15. That feeling you get when you see students start engaging more and taking initiative
This, my dear friends, is what we call CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.
16. Having the inevitable (you knew it was coming from the beginning) mid-week breakdown
Symptoms may include (though not limited) to: hysterics, uncontrollable laughter, and possible hallucinations.
17. Trying to keep your students from hurting themselves but they refuse to listen
Sometimes the only way for them to learn is the hard way.
18. When it's the last day of camp and you just
We survived. We made it. We did it. Can
19. Making it back home (without the bus breaking down)
20. When you recap with your students and find out they not only had a lot of fun, but learned a lot about Jesus and can't wait to share Him with their friends
That marks another successful summer camp!
Despite the lack of sleep and slight breakdown near the end of the week, being apart of these student's lives is an experience that is beyond comparison. Seeing them grow and learn so much all throughout the week is a blessing in itself and I can honestly say it's also helped me grow as a person and as a leader.
I encourage those who haven't done student leadership before to really consider it.
I promise those students are a worthwhile investment.