ok, i know this event is my baby, and that i’m biased. but i really don’t think i expected the middle school ministry campference to go this well. it’s not that i thought it was going to go poorly; i just don’t know that i expected this.
jason hoffer, our wonderful host from springhill camp, was standing with me in the “game room” tonight, a large room full of booths, tables, ping pong and pool tables. and we were seeing dozens of clusters of middle school youth workers, just hanging out together and having fun. some were playing games. others were debriefing the day or getting to know each other better. and jason said, “this is what i always hoped this event would be.”
after breakfast this morning, we had morning breakout sessions, including dialogues on a cool variety of themes. people were totally ‘in’. my morning session was on the implications of recent adolescent brain research; and we had a lively discussion that felt like a group of friends brainstorming together.
we went straight to our morning tribal gathering. scott rubin and brooklyn lindsey led a hilarious game that only partially worked, which was part of the hilarity. we’d found these stuffed angry birds at walmart, and staged a large scale “angry birds live”, with youth workers launching angry birds using a slingshot aimed at a pile of boxes with stuffed angry bird pigs here and there. the ‘camp mail’ letters from senior pastors blessed everyone again, as did johnny scott’s worship leading. then steve argue gave an amazing talk about how we move (and how we help middle schoolers move) through fear and doubt to faith. he talked about faith as a verb, and walked us through peter’s steps on the water as an example of moving from one place of faith, through fear and doubt, to a new place of faith.
after lunch, we had another series of breakouts, and were then on to free time. now, since this is a campference and not a conference, free time included:
- horseback trail rides
- climbing wall
- high ropes course
- a texas hold-em tournament
- a dodgeball tournament
- and lots of hanging out and talking
after dinner, we had another tribal gathering. kurt johnston and brooklyn led pingpongpalooza, we gave out a bunch of funny prizes, johnny led worship, i read camp mail, and we had a wonderful talk from michael flaherty. mike is the founder and CEO of walden media, the producers of all the narnia movies, as well as dozens of other films, including holes, bridge to terabithia, and charlotte’s web. mike told stories, which was awesome. he included much of his own story, and riffed a bit on the power of stories to shape us (and middle schoolers). he included lots of cool insider stuff, and responded to lots of questions. mike is the real deal, coming to the MSMC at his own expense, and staying with us for the entire weekend. his presence and engagement with people was a great gift.
then, free time again this evening, which included the game room i mentioned at the beginning of this post, as well as indoor high ropes and climbing wall, and a euro-bungie. we ended the night with a campfire, complete with campfire songs.
yup, another amazing day. oh, and the sun broke through the clouds today (which wasn’t forecast), which was a huge answer to prayer.
i came into this event wondering if we should repeat it. but i’m starting to think we simply have to find a way to do it again next year.