Saturday, July 14, 2012

Audacious 2012

Our biggest summer plans are now behind us and I have a few days with nothing to do. Inconceivable! Jordan and I spent a few minutes reflecting over dinner last night at how gracious God has been to the two of us during this busy summer season. Several months ago, we were unsure about so many things, but God has worked out all of these details and brought great glory to Himself. I am thankful to say that having separate high school and middle school camps was hugely successful. I am thankful to say that despite being pregnant, I was able to attend both camps and I like to think I did a pretty good job keeping up with the students. I am thankful to say that our travel to and from Tennessee was smooth and uncomplicated. So much to be thankful for.

Our high school camp was a ginormous success. Honestly, in the days leading up to this trip, my dread was increasing exponentially. I couldn't help obsessing over the 16 hour drive in church vans. I was fearful over the lack of sleep that camp always brings. And of course, the fear of the unknown- we had never done a Student Life camp, much less a Student Life camp in Tennessee. All things combined, this trip could've been a disaster, but I'm so proud that my husband followed the Lord's leading because camp couldn't have been more wonderful. 

Check out some pictures and stories from our week at camp with the high school students.

We arrived Sunday afternoon to Lee University in Cleveland, TN (just outside of Chattanooga). I've known many people who attended Lee for college, but have never visited the campus myself. The school was beautiful and our accommodations were awesome. We stayed in apartment style dorms, which meant 2 things: 1. NO communal showers and 2. I got my own bedroom (Remember me being worried about getting enough sleep? I was more than taken care of in the sleep department by having my own quiet bedroom to retreat to each night.)
A group shot of our kids and fearless leaders. We pulled a nice person out of Dunkin Donuts to take our photo so that each person in the group would actually be in the picture. Once I got home, I realized really quickly that every single one of the pictures was crooked and some of them had people completely cut out. This was the best "serious" photo from the bunch (after correcting the obvious tilt), despite having a few folks looking around. 
The camp speaker was Jeremy Kingsley, who happens to be a personal favorite of Jordan's.  Jeremy is one of the major reasons why Jordan chose this particular camp (Student life holds dozens of camps throughout the summer all over the US). He's a pretty lively character and even though I snapped like 30 photos of the guy, hardly any of them are in focus because he bounces all over the stage. When one of the students told us, "this is the first time I've ever looked forward to the speaker, like I 'm ready for worship to end so that I can hear Jeremy's message." I considered that a majorly awesome compliment. 
Bellarive led worship in both services each day (morning celebration and evening worship). I'd never heard them before, but ended up really enjoying them. Their hearts were obviously centered not on a performance, but on true worship. If you get a chance, check them out on iTunes. I especially love The Father's Heart. 
Student Life definitely has their act together, which is to be expected, considering camps and youth materials is their business. Having never been to a SL Camp, I was really impressed by the overall organization and how smoothly things ran. I thought the skits were fantastic. The materials were really good quality. The videos were funny. Basically, Student Life has nailed their key demographic, which both engaged our students and took a load off the adult leaders.

The camp had a mission emphasis, which means our students went out during the day and did service projects  in the Cleveland community. It was a huge difference from the recreation-heavy camps we've done in the past and I personally loved the service. The kids truly seemed to gain so much more from the work they did and I hope it has a much further reaching and long lasting impact than zip lines and relay races. We split our team into 2 smaller groups and sent one group to a Nursing Home for Alzheimer's/Dementia patients, while the other group led a VBS/Bible study at a low-income apartment complex. Due to the nature of the folks each team worked with, I took very few pictures at each site and chose not to post any. But imagine our students singing and dancing with sweet elderly ladies and playing kickball with some funny kiddos. It was pretty awesome to see them at work. 

All in all, we had an amazing time with our students and leaders. Sure, we were tired, the travel was long, the church vans smelled like teen spirit, and my ankles had all but completely disappeared beneath a massive amount of swelling by the end of the week, but in the end, it was worth it.

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