No no no… This isn’t just a typical summer camp people. As a Young Life leader, one of the hardest jobs you have is explaining summer camp for kids who haven’t been. Some of the replies we receive to our numerous (and I mean numerous…) invitations:
“Uhm… No. I don’t do camp.”
“Do I have to sleep in a tent?”
“I hate summer camp. The food is gross.”
“Camp is for elementary kids… Not high school students.”
Every negative reply about the misconceptions of Young Life camp makes any typical leader want to scream, jump around, and maybe even shake a kid. (OK, kidding, we aren’t that aggressive…) But seriously, folks. Young Life camp is hands down, the best week of your life. And this may be a tad tricky to understand for those of you who haven’t experienced the 7 most wonderful days of the summer…
1. Big Cookie
The most appropriate choice for #1 of Young Life Summer camp. The first night you’re banging your silver utensils to the lyrics of “Bring 'Em Out” and you’re adorable work crew waiter places a giant cookie 3 times the size of your face with a 5 lb. scoop of ice cream on top… This is what dreams are made of.
Photo credit: Brian Wise
2. The Surprises are Endless
When it comes to Young Life camp… You truly have no idea what will come next. Whether it’s a giant whirlpool, two men fighting in Sumo suits, or sliding down a giant mud obstacle course in the middle of the night… Young Life camp is full of surprises, and good ones at that.
3. The Friendships Made
Young Life camp isn’t just a typical summer to have fun, play a few games, tell campfire stories, and head home. Young Life camp is a time to find yourself, and find friends who strive for the new self you find. It’s a time for real life stuff, real conversations, and real friendships formed.
4. The Food. Period.
Y’all… No lie, Young Life camp food is the best thing to ever meet my taste buds—and I’m sure many can agree to this statement. And oh, did I mention many camps have a coffee shop (that includes uh-mazing Frappuccinos)? Yes, and snack bars with the best ice cream you will ever have. Amazing Food. Endless Food. Good food.
5. No Worries... About a Thing
The moment you lay your pillow down in your pre-made, perfectly folded bunk bed, you will not have a single worry for the next 6 days. Guaranteed. Young Life camp is absolute joy, pure fun, and zero worries! Well, the only worry you may have is how nervous you are to “spoon” that cute boy sitting across the dining hall… But I think that’s a pretty great worry to have, right?!
6. You are Constantly Celebrated
From the second you get off that bus, to every meal, every event, and each second you reside on Young Life camp’s property… You are celebrated. I remember the first time I stepped foot onto a Young Life camp, and there was a tunnel of people cheering for me, high fiving me, and then even better--someone grabbed my bags for me to take to my cabin! They wanted me to be there… And boy, did they show it well.
7. The Most Beautiful Places on the Planet
No lie… Young Life Camps are the most beautiful places on earth! From Rockbridge, in the rolling hills of Virginia, to Windy Gap, nestled in the beautiful North Carolina Mountains, to Crooked Creek, with a beautiful view of the Colorado Rockies, and many more. But did I mention my absolute favorite? Malibu Club in British Columbia. I think the picture speaks for itself.
8. Everything is Perfectly Planned
Did you know that the Young Life work crew spends about 30-40 minutes (sometimes even longer…) making sure every napkin is perfectly folded, the cups are a few inches away from the plates, and every utensil is shined? Yes, it’s true. Along with spending hours folding every blanket perfectly, cleaning every inch of the camp, and praying over everything. Man, what a beautiful glimpse of His kingdom--perfectly planned for you to enjoy.
9. The Memories Made
The memories I made at Young Life camp are incomparable. From dancing the night away at The Night that Never Ends, to crying tears of laughter/nerves on the ropes course, to having real conversations, to experiencing the real, authentic joy of Jesus, all of these things encompass what Young Life is. And what is that? Simple, pure joy.
10. You were made for this.
The well-known Young Life motto: You were made for this. Why did I put this? Because that’s just it. It simply says You. The reason why Young Life works so hard to make camp the best 7 days of your life is because you are important. You are amazing, so camp will be amazing. You are wonderful, so your week will be wonderful. The Lord made a special person, and that's you. And you deserve to be celebrated each and every day. And at home, maybe you don't get that. But on your seven days at Young Life camp, you will see exactly what the Lord calls you to: a life of joy, a life of celebration, and a life of adventure.