Work crew at Young Life camp — if you don't know — is a month long program where you serve middle school and high school campers to help them learn a little bit more about Jesus. Work crew is for high school-aged people, and the summer staff is college aged and on. There are various jobs that summer staff does, but the ones work crew can do are housekeeping, outdoor crew, dishes or "pits", and serving food in the dining hall. I worked in work crew in 2016 at the Washington Family Ranch and then summer staff the past two summers in the same place. I've learned a handful of things and these are just a few things I wish I had known before I went:
It can be hard, but rewarding
If you have a lot of friends that have done work crew before, and you've seen them post pictures after they get back, then you probably think it's just a lot of fun and games — which is true, but the days can be long. There will be hard days, and those are the days when you'll rely on the Lord the most.
The month goes by quick
You might think "I have all month to do *insert activity*" but in reality, it flies by and before you know it, it's the last camper week. My advice is to treat every week like its the last. Go swimming on your day off (if your camp has one), and hang out with that one person on your session you've been meaning to.
Try Not to Hope for One Job
When I did work crew, I went in with an open mind. For work crew at WFR, they don't tell you your job before you get there. If you do summer staff, however, you are assigned a job that you know about before you go. My advice for work crew is to not hope for dining hall, because if you don't get it, you'll be sad about it and that can make you resent the job more sometimes. There are certain perks to each job, that I'm sure vary at every camp. One thing I liked about doing housekeeping was how much time I spent with my group, and we had a lot of time to connect while folding laundry and cleaning camper bathrooms.
You will get homesickGiphy
Unless you're not the type to get homesick, but it was my first time ever being away from home for so long, and I did get home sick. My advice? Journal about it. Just journal in general, but journaling and also talking to your work crew boss about it can make things a lot better. To avoid homesickness, I would advise not calling home every chance you get. Fully invest in your time there — you only get 1 month!
You'll survive without your phone
Different camps have different phone rules, but most camps you'll be without your phone for some amount of time. When I did work crew they took them and put them in paper bags and i didn't even see it until our last night. On summer staff, i was able to have my phone but WFR doesn't have service anyway. Some camps will let you have it for an hour each week. All I know is, a month without my phone/wifi is actually very freeing.
People don't believe that actually sleep deprivation is a real thing until they get to work crew. It's a lot of late nights and early mornings, so i would really advise not staying up until the crack of dawn. Depending on your work crew bosses, many will have a "lights out" time. Summer staff is a bit more lenient, so take heed. It can be tempting to be up late with all of your new best friends but I promise you, y'all will have tons of time to chat during the day.
You'll make life long friends — from all overGiphy
This is kind of the best and worst thing. Pros: NEW LIFE LONG FRIENDS! Cons: They may not live close to you. However, you have like 20 new best friends all over the country — heck, even the world! I had a summer staff friend once from New Zealand. Plus, its an excuse to go visit them and crash on their couch for a couple days. This is currently going on with me and I love it.
Work crew and summer staff have been some of the best experiences of my life and I highly highly recommend them to anyone considering.