when i first started doing a little speaking in the world of youth ministry, i always told myself i didn’t want to ever become one of those speakers who has a million things to say about what youth ministry should be like, but hasn’t had a real relationship with an actual teenager for years (and ‘from the stage’, or ‘after my talks at events’ doesn’t count, imho). it’s one of the things that has kept me active in local church youth ministry, even at times when i’ve felt like taking a break. i’ve felt that, if i am not willing to do youth ministry, i won’t have integrity when i’m speaking about youth ministry.
not that my commitment to my local church youth ministry is drudgery! far from it. most of the time, i love it. and next fall, i’ll start a new 3 year commitment with a small group of 6th grade boys.
but, there are things i don’t really do anymore, if i’m totally honest. i don’t think i’ve actually stayed up all night for an all-nighter in a long time. and, i don’t think i’ve been a camp counselor for a long time either. i’ve directed camps, spoken at camps, and played just about every other role at camp. but actually being responsible for a cabin of guys, and that being my only responsibility… well, it’s been a while.
which was probably, in addition to my busy schedule and all that other important stuff, part of the resistance i felt when my middle school pastor asked if i would consider being a camp counselor this year. i politely declined. but then a few things happened:
1. we realized that both of my own children were going to be gone that entire week, liesl at a camp where she’s counseling most of the summer, and max at the very middle school camp i was avoiding.
2. jeannie talked about how much work she has to do for grad school that week.
3. my schedule had nothing — abnormally — on it.
that’s when my middle school pastor emailed to say that she had a guy who could only come as a counselor through wednesday, and was there any way i could come up and be a counselor for the last 48 hours. so there you have it. today, i’m headed up to thousand pines camp, near lake arrowhead, CA, to be a camp counselor. two of the guys from my small group that just ended will be there, as will my son.
if i’m being completely honest (more than i would prefer to be), i’m actually a little bit anxious. maybe a tiny bit intimidated. a little nervous. i’m out of practice at this part of youth ministry.