8THGRADE WINTER CAMP
I was a leader/counselor at a winter camp this past weekend for junior highers and high schoolers. I took care of the 8th-grade boys from my church, Saddleback Church-Irvine/South. This was my 4th camp with these particular young men. My first was the summer prior to them entering 7th grade. For pure craziness, I can tell you that the 7th-grade summer camp was the craziest thing I had been a part of. First, because it was my first time with them, there was absolutely no control. The last night there we were up most of the night, due to an over-indulgence in sugar and them being heck-bent on staying up the whole night. I live in Irvine, a bubble in the midst of real life. Most of the families are of Asian decent with a few Caucasians to round out the mix. None of this means anything to the boys as they have grown up with each other and enjoy each other immensely. I will never forget being awake at 3 a.m., lying on my bunk, with a mental ward asylum happening two feet from me, wondering what I had done to deserve this.
Fast forward to this past weekend. This was a whole different story. This group of young men meet with myself and another leader, Jack Marshall, at one of the boy’s house (Thank you, Sarah Williams!) on a weekly basis during the year. We call this LIfeGroup. Experiencing life together every week. To say it has been amazing would be an understatement. Why? Partly because I never had the chance to do anything like this. Jack had not either. Just meeting like this gives these young men such a leg up on other boys their age because they talk about what is going on in their lives and we are able to discuss the options available to them and it gives the others the ability to see what might be happening to them in the near future. The world is much different than when I was this age. The actual business that these kids have to deal with is hard to believe. They literally have no free time. Well, a little. Which puts the kids in a lot of pressure situations knowing they need to succeed. There isn’t anybody to blame for this, it’s just part of a young person’s life. Which makes the LifeGroup so essential.
This past weekend marked the last time we will be going to a camp as junior highers. You see, I am following these boys all the way until they graduate from high school in 2020. How awesome is that? Yesterday the graduating class from this year’s high school class was brought forward and said good-bye to and prayed over. I cried. Oh, yes, I did. I can’t tell you what I will do in four years when my guys are leaving. It will be six years then and if we have half as much fun as we have had in the first two years, it will be sweet as pie. I love them and want the best for them because they are good. It’s easy. Not just their actions but with their attitudes. Their parents have done a smashing job of raising them. My job is just to help them stay on track spiritually. But even that responsibility, no matter how little, is full of opportunities and peril. Life is on the edge of a knife and if you do not have the proper support it is a short trip down to desperation. I know because I’ve lived it.
So this last weekend was a milestone and marks the 1/3 mark of our adventure together. I would ask that you would pray for them when they come to mind. These young men are special and God has something great for each one of them. I’m blessed.