Working At A Young Life Camp Will Change Your Life

Working At A Young Life Camp Will Change Your Life

How is it possible that an unpaid month full of hard work could be "fun"?

Young Life summer camp, aka the best week of your entire life.

There's no denying that.

But working at a camp for an entire month, doing extremely hard work and not getting paid? No thank you. That was my thought process when someone told me about applying for Summer Staff. There was no way that an entire month away from home (my family and friends), doing endless hours of "dirty work" behind the scenes at a camp could be "the best month of your life" like people advertised.

However, I couldn't have been more wrong.

It's been months since I got back from my month-long adventure serving at Carolina Point as a baker on Summer Staff, yet not a day goes by that I don't think about my experience and the profound impact it made on my life. I never would have dreamed that that month would change my personality and the direction of my life entirely.

It's like a different world at Young Life camp, no matter which one you go to. A world where people are kind to each other and celebrate each other's differences rather than pointing out each other's flaws. A place where we can openly talk about Jesus and not be judged for it, but be encouraged. A place where we can talk about the messy parts of our lives and find out we aren't the only ones facing those obstacles. A place where you will laugh and cry harder than you ever have before. A place where you will be loved unconditionally, by people you never would have thought you could connect with.

Yes, the work was hard. I got up at 5 a.m., running off of as little as four hours of sleep, stood on my feet baking bread and desserts for as many as 800 campers for ten hours a day but I wouldn't have traded the experience for the world. I met the BEST people in the world, people who will forever be in my life and will probably stand next to me on my wedding day.

I grew in my faith in ways I didn't even think imaginable. I realized that serving others can be such a joy, even if it is "behind the scenes" and you get no recognition for it. I found out how truly unconditionally loved I am by a God who never leaves my side. I learned so much about myself and what it means to walk with Jesus each and every day. I also made the decision to completely turn my life around, leaving behind what I thought was my dream school, and pursuing an entirely different school and path, because I felt God speak to me in a way that I never had before.

I could go on and on about the ways my life changed and the incredible things I experienced while on Summer Staff because the impact was that significant.

Even if the thought of leaving behind your friends and family for a month of the summer and serving endless hours of hard work makes you cringe, I would challenge you to apply because if I had listened to my thoughts of hesitation, I would have missed out on a truly life-changing experience that redirected the path of my life.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Parker

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Words Of Wisdom For The One I'll Always Love The Most

Forever and always.

The power you possess to have created such a change in my life is truly extraordinary. Unbeknownst to you, but completely transparent through my eyes. 500 miles apart, and you still seem to worm your way through the cracks of my mind, searching for the tiniest spot to stay.

Though not intentional on your part, finding the little ways to keep you in my mind provides a sense of happiness in the stressful, nearly independent world we have come to find ourselves living in.

For instance, a simple instrumental piece of music has awakened the unconscious side to my love for you. Unknown thoughts, a maturing version of the feelings you provoke inside of me.

We share a similar soul, one that promotes gentleness and passion. I put a mask over mine that exhibits power, a desire for dominance and intimidation. My sweetness is hidden, while yours flourishes with each word spoken from your lips. You bring my true form to the front. Not everyone has the power to do that. You’re one of the lucky ones.

The day we reunite will be the day our souls collide again because through each conversation we have, I see our worlds become one, our similarities mesh, with reality pausing for a mere moment. It’s just us, a girl hopelessly in love with a young man whom she longs to share her life with. Someday, the universe will guide our souls to where they need to be, hopefully with each other.

Reality forces me to steer away from what can never be, while my optimism looks to the future with smiles and prayer. For indeed...

This may be the beginning of it all.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Small Towns Aren't As Boring As They Seem, Trust Me, I'd Know

Growing up in a small town may seem boring, but it will teach you many valuable things.

Growing up in a small town was both a blessing and a curse. Now that I am in college I definitely appreciate where I grew up a lot more than I did when I was living there all the time. In my eyes there was never anything fun to do and I seemed to be bored all the time. I found whatever I could to do, which involved a lot of sporting events, hanging out with my friends and binge-watching Netflix.

At the time, these seemed like boring things and when I would go to my friends house we would watch movies and just talk until way too late. I wanted to do things that were more fun, but we had to drive at least 20 minutes to get to a Target much less any other remotely interesting place.

But growing up in a small town did teach me some very valuable things.

First things first I learned to value my family. You're not going to be around them forever. Personally, I had two older sisters and it wasn't long before they were gone to college. When I was the only child left I knew I took for granted all the times my sisters were around. When we were younger and I was bored I would just get one of my sisters to play Barbies with me or play some sort of pretend game like school.

Now I was older and I didn't have any built-in best friends living with me. Now that I'm in college I value my family even more because I don't get to see them every day. My family was really close when I was growing up, so I miss just being around them all the time.

Another thing I learned to was to value real friendships. In every town, there are fake people that will be nice to your face but talk behind your back. In my town, there were quite a lot of fake people. I hated this. Why do people feel the need to be fake? If someone won't accept you for who you are who cares?

Find people that will because those people are out there. In high school, I found those people. The kind of people that you can just be yourself around and they still love you. So to my friends from high school that I still keep in touch with, I love you guys.

With small towns comes another lesson you should learn as early as possible, be careful who you trust. In a small town, it is very easy for you to tell one person something and that something gets around to pretty much everyone in the town. People talk, a lot. Especially in my town, and it wasn't just the kids that would talk and gossip, the parents would too.

A certain group of parents comes to mind with this one, and I knew to not trust the kids of those parents too much. You need to learn who can keep your secrets and who will spread them. This ties into valuing real friendships because your friends are the people you can trust with anything.

With there not being many things to do in a small town, I learned all about small town pride. In my town, this pride came with sports. We weren't always the best, but there was endless support from the community. You could find me in the student section cheering on my peers whenever possible. I loved being in the stands watching my friends do what I wasn't as good at. The stands would be packed with people at most home games. Everyone wanted to show their pride for the teams.

Even in college, it is fun to go back to sporting events and cheer on my friends that are still in high school. The stands never seem to get emptier as the years go by. I learned to appreciate cheering on my friends no matter how badly they were losing or how bad the team's season was in general, and my town had some pretty bad seasons with certain sports *cough* football *cough*.

Growing up in a small town isn't the only way you can learn this next lesson, but it definitely helped me learn it. Quality over quantity is a big part of growing up in general. It is important to learn it doesn't matter how many of something you have, especially friends. What matters is how great those friends are. I learned that I didn't need a bunch of friends, I just needed the friends I had to be really good people. I am happy to know that I have those people in my life. My friends are some of the greatest people I know and I hope to keep them in my life for a long time because they make me a better person.

When the nearest "big" towns are at least 20 minutes away, you learn to appreciate the small things. Things that seem so small and dumb can really be the best memories you take with you through life. You don't have to do big, extravagant things to have fun and make memories. Things like sleepovers with your friends, going out to eat, and even a trip to the grocery store can create such fun memories.

There are so many times that I took for granted having my dog sleeping at the end of my bed or my best friends only living 5 minutes away. Having a meal with your family or having a family game night, it all was taken for granted and it took me a whole two days at college to realize that.

Lastly, it is important to remember there are bigger (and better) things out there. You will not be stuck in your small town forever (unless you make yourself get stuck there). The possibilities for everyone are limitless. If you want to get away, do it. Go to college in California, take a gap year in a different place to save some money before going to college, or just travel the world. Overall, just follow your heart to wherever and do something that makes you happy. It doesn't even have to be far away or a huge thing, and it can be as simple as moving to a city with a bigger population or just getting a job that you think is fun.

The population of the town my college is in is only a few thousand more than my hometown, and that's okay with me. I know that I don't have to stay in small towns my whole life. I know that I could transfer to a college in a bigger city anytime I want to, or I can move to a big city once I complete college.

Your hometown doesn't define you, you define you. Even though at the time all I wanted to do was get out of my small hometown, I have found out so many things I learned from living in that town. It wasn't all that bad and now that I'm not there all the time, I realize just how great my hometown was and still is (especially Minnesota's Largest Candy Store).

Cover Image Credit: Jordan Public Schools

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