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.