This summer, I have gotten the incredible opportunity to work at a summer camp called United Christian Youth Camp (UCYC) located in Prescott, Arizona. This is the summer camp that I have attended as a camper, lead at as a camp counselor and now have served as a summer staffer. The desire to work at this summer camp was laid on my heart two summers ago as I was about to enter into my senior year of high school. And now, two summers later, the Lord has been faithful in bringing me here.
As the weeks have gone on, I have grown more and more fond of UCYC than I ever thought I would, or could. The people I have the privilege of working with, and the campers I get to serve every week in the Springs have made this summer unforgettable.
There is not one main purpose that I am writing this post, rather various ideas, thoughts and reasons why, so I apologize for my scatter brain that you are about to witness.
I am forever thankful that the Lord has good intentions for me in mind. I am thankful that He knows what is best for me, and where is going to be the best place for me to be at any given time. Something I struggle with immensely is anxiety and worrying, and with that being said, those struggles affected my decision making for this summer. All second semester I was doubting my call to be at UCYC. Day in and day out I was filled with fear of not being able to see my family, not being able to fit in, not being fit for the position I was walking into, etc. But, after all of that, I decided that I needed to go. Not because my heart was 100% willing at that point, but because the Lord told me to go. Sometimes we don’t want to go where the Lord tells us, like Jonah. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh, and He even ran the opposite direction that the Lord was calling him, but after running, and the Lord continuously telling him to go, he went. And when he went, the Lord used him going to do great things. I firmly believe that the Lord had that same idea in mind for me, and I know that that is what He has in mind for you, too. The Lord doesn’t call us to go places that He isn’t going to teach us, use us and grow us. So, I am thankful that I heard the Lord’s voice, and was able to go where He has called me, because what wonderfulness that has come from it.
One of those wonderful things is the people that I have been able to serve alongside. I am so thankful for the Springs staff. Thank the Lord above for the staff that Springs was blessed with this summer. We all have worked so well with each other. Everyone has such loving and servant hearts, and we all love the Lord so much and love doing His work together. Something unique about Springs is that the summer staff housing was all together, which means this- all 22 ladies live under one roof and all 13 males live under one roof. That kind of sounds nuts and dysfunctional, right? Right. Don’t ask me how it works so well, but it does. Getting to know and to live with every girl on my staff has been such a blessing. We all get to spend time together at night when we actually get a few seconds that we can relax. We get to talk together, all together, or in smaller groups where we get to share about our days and our struggles and our fears. Living with my co-workers has been some of the best community that I have ever experienced, and I am so thankful for that as well.
Growing can suck, and it can be painful. And I am not going to lie, it’s hard. To be transparent, I am really insecure about being heard, and feeling like I am loved and cared for at times. But, this summer, I have constantly been reminded about how those are lies. My boss Braydon is simply incredible. He is such a great leader and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to work under him this summer. There have been countless occasions that I have been having a bad day, or been really stressed and crying, or times where he knew that there was something going on, and he would ask me about it or offer encouragement to me. He has built me up by reassuring me that I am a leader and that I am doing a good job at the tasks that I have been given. I am truly blessed that this summer I have gotten to work so closely to someone who is walking with the Lord, and who is listening to the Lord in ways that he is able to see what the Lord sees in each and every person on our staff. He is encouraging and loving, and that can be so hard to find sometimes in leaders. Our staff is incredibly blessed to have him, but not only him, but many other people as well.
There are many other staff members that have made me feel loved, and like I am stepping into everything that God has planned for me. This summer I have felt empowered and encouraged to be the leader that God has made me to be, and to not be insecure about being heard. I have grown so much this summer in finding my voice, and beginning to know and believe that I am a leader and can be a leader. It can be so hard to see your own potential, and let me tell ya, it’s hard for me to see mine a lot of the time. But, being surrounded by a leadership team who speaks life and encouragement into me every day is such a blessing. Not only am I offered encouragement in times of self-doubt, but also in times when I am not doubting myself. Somedays, someone from the leadership team will just walk up to me and say, “Hey, you’re doing a great job.” There is nothing more meaningful than hearing something like that, even when you don’t need it. Simply hearing it at random makes it mean so much more sometimes, and I am blessed to be surrounded by people who offer that encouragement often.
Another area in which I have grown this summer is in my fears. I am terrified of heights (which is part of the reason why my camp name is Grounds lol), and at the beginning of training when summer started, I found out that I was working the high ropes course or as we call it the Static Course. It’s a really cool course, but the problem is that as summer staff, we need to be up there with the kids, which I mean, is really awesome and all, but I am absolutely terrified of heights. Actually, I am so terrified of heights, that I refused to go up on the course because I knew it wasn’t going to be a pretty sight. So for the first 4 program weeks of the summer, Grounds held her ground and stayed on the ground. But, after watching the team I work with every day at Static be up there, having a great time, I really had a desire to go up there. So, one day, when there were no kids signed up for a time slot, I quietly announced that I wanted to get up there, so I did, kind of. It was a struggle, but I made it up there, did one obstacle, and came right back down. But I had great time doing it. Here’s what I learned: When you let fear rule your life, you miss out on crazy awesome things that is in store for you. And I wholeheartedly believe that this also directly applies to God and how if we let fear rule in our hearts, we will miss out on opportunities to share His name and serve Him. God’s peace is so much greater than fear.
The last area of growth that I want to share with you guys is the crippling amount of stress that I experience. I am a worrier, and I stress out about a lot of things a lot of the time. And let me tell ya, camp and stress don’t really mesh well together. So, as these past 9 or so weeks have passed by, I have had to learn to not stress about schedule changes and things not going the way they were originally planned. Matthew writes “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34). There is nowhere that I have ever been in my life that this has been shown to me more clearly than camp ministry. At the beginning of the week, the schedule is prefect with no flaws in it, until the buses show up four hours late, or until the weather cuts in and decides that we aren’t going to run rec today, or when the bus comes an hour after session has begun at a location that is 30 minutes off camp. Sometimes you have no idea when those things are going to happen- actually most of the time you have no idea at all. But, is it helping me to worry and stress about the way that something on Thursday is going to happen when its only Monday and Monday has its own set of troubles? No, it isn’t. Camp has shown me more and more how true what Matthew writes is. Focus on today, and don’t worry about tomorrow until it gets here.
So, some people may be thinking, “You’ve worked at a summer camp all summer, how have you encountered God?” I’m not going to sit here and say that I’ve had a huge encounter with God where He has clearly spoken to me telling me something. I’m also not going to tell you that some miraculous situation has occurred, but I will tell you that every minute of every day I have had the opportunity to see God.
Let’s throw it back to week one of camp which was a junior high week. I was at the Static course where I work rec, and there was this boy who I will leave unnamed. He was a camper, and before he even started climbing, I made a connection with him about how he plays guitar, in which I replied to, “How cool!! I wish I could play guitar.” Then he started climbing and he wasn’t very fond of heights. He only had made it a few pegs up the pole and then he requested to come down. I made sure that he was sure about coming down and then he climbed down. But before he climbed down, he muttered, “I hate myself, I’m not good at anything.” And once he got to the ground, he started to punch himself in the face, and right then in that moment my heart broke a little. I said to him, “Stop, don’t do that or say that. You are so loved and so important, and even though you may not be good at climbing or heights doesn’t mean that you suck or aren’t good at anything. You just told me that you play guitar, that is so awesome and something that you are good at that I’m not even good at. God made us all differently. He is The Artist and each person on earth is His canvas. Maybe he made you with acrylic paint, and me with water color, and your leader with some colored pencils, but that doesn’t make any of us less important, loved or talented. God gave us all different strengths, and that is what makes us who we are. When you say that you hate yourself and that you aren’t good at anything, you are telling God that what He created in you isn’t beautiful and that breaks His heart.” After I ranted about all of that for a few minutes, I said, “If you want to try climbing again you can, but if not, that’s okay, too.” He wanted to climb again, but we ran out of time, so I told him and his leader to come back later in the week to try again if they wanted to. They did. This day, the boy climbed up, completed one obstacle and then came down. But, one of the other staffers, Bayani helped him all the way though the course. Bayani asked the boy, “What is the scariest thing other than this that you have ever done?” And the boy replied, “I was flying a plane, and if it weren’t for the help of my co-pilot, then we would’ve died.” So for the rest of the time they were up there, Bayani called the boy captain, and he told him that he was his co-pilot. Bayani said, its just me and you, and were gonna do this, together. And then, they boy said something that touched Bayani’s heart. He said, “It’s me, you and God, right?”
It’s little moments like this for us as staffers when we see a student have a big moment and conquer a fear, and while they are doing that, still having Christ at the forefront of their mind.
Then, there are the other places where I have seen God, too. Like in the house I live in with the 21 other girl summer staffers. We have never had any huge dramatic fights. We have never had a problem with gossip. Praise the Lord. In that, I see God. All of us live in one room, with limited space, and these are the biggest problems that we have ever had is, “I can’t find one of my staff shirts,” or “Hey, can we turn the lights off and quiet down, people are trying to sleep,” or “Hey, can you move your stuff into your own area, it’s getting in my way.” If THOSE are the biggest issues that we have had, well then thank God because He is among us.
Another place where I have seen God is in the beautiful place where our camp is held. Springs is in the middle of Prescott National Forest which is SO beautiful. Springs is about a 5-mile drive away from the other two camps, Summit and Pines, that are a part of UCYC, and sometimes it can be a pain driving 20 minutes to just get into town. But, every time we make that drive, we get to see the beauty of God creation. We get to see trees, and sunsets, and rain, and deer, and birds. It’s amazing how beautiful that God has made this place that our camp gets to call home.
Lastly, I’d like to say that God is seen in the people on our staff. We have an incredible staff FULL of people who love the Lord and want to serve Him with their whole hearts. All of us work so well together, and God’s hands were in picking who got placed in the Springs for the summer, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! Every single person has different strengths that they have brought to our team, and it is so amazing seeing God orchestrate what 1 Corinthian says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[a] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts,[b] yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
Our staff is one body, and the Lord made that happen.
God has shown up EVERYWHERE this summer, and I am so grateful for that.
So, thank you, God for a crazy awesome summer, and thank you Springs Staff, for blessing my life immensely. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my summer any other way than up in the mountains serving Our God with all of you!