Friday, June 19, 2009

Campy thoughts

In case you didn't catch it from my last post, I loved loved LOVED my week at camp.

I think tweens and teens are fun, creative, interesting, energetic and very messy.

We had incredible speakers and a worship band that taught the kids and really led them into worship. The devotionals were thought-provoking. There were skits and programs and studies.

But I have a feeling most of the kids won't remember exactly what was said. Sadly, they probably won't remember any of it.

But I guarantee they will remember the games and the mud and the bad cafeteria food and the toilet that overflowed at midnight (and the subsequent overpowering aroma of Pine Sol). The kid who dislocated his finger and the girl that got a black eye and the paintball bruises. They will remember huddling in the bathroom during the tornado warning and the hot bus ride and the soggy sandwiches.

In my Over-The-Top, Ultra-Serious Days I might have thought those things were unnecessary and unimportant. You know, hindrances to true spiritual endeavors that were supposed to happen during the evening sermon (you would NOT have wanted me to be your camp director in those days - NO FUN and WAY BORING!). Yes, some spiritual things happened at the altars, but I would hazard a guess that some of the most important things happened in our kids' souls when we weren't even realizing it.

About 25 of the kids we brought were unchurched. I enjoyed watching them. They politely tolerated the meetings and (with a little gentle encouragement) grudgingly followed the dress code.

But as the week unfolded, it was very clear that the games and the food and the fun and just doing life together for a week all muddled together in memory-making and identity-shaping that open the soul to hunger for more. Not just for the new kids, but also for the preachers' kids and for those (like mine) that have grown up steeped in the faith. Teenagers (okay, and adults, too) can listen to a speaker and acknowledge truth. God does a work in their hearts. But then they look around and ask questions like, What does being a Christian really look like? Do I belong here? Are these people for real?

Now that I'm home, I'm looking at my own kids - they are typical teens, alternating adult-like behavior with dizzying immaturity and lack of depth (just pick any moment in the day and be surprised by what you see!). I want a quick and easy fix (read: NO FUN and WAY BORING lecture). I want to be able to measure the outcome. Now.

It's much harder to find out what they enjoy, and just hang out with them. To let them dye your hair pink do crazy things together that leave lasting memories. To let them try on my faith for size until it becomes their own. To wait patiently while they watch my life and decide for themselves: What does being a Christian really look like? Do I belong here? Are these people for real?

But I'm determined to make time in my life to do just that.

God, help me talk less and live more.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.
James 1:19


mholgate said...

Great thoughts Katherine! Thanks for sharing. I'm only a few years away from tweens and I'll be calling on you when I get there! :)


Andrea said...

full of wisdom and absolutely beautiful.

Kelli said...

My oldest just returned from camp, too. I was back home with the little(r) ones, so didn't get to go. Can't wait until all three of the little(r) ones are old enough so I can go, too!

Maureen said...

I loved your thoughts and perspective on this. Talk less, live more, be an example of what a Christian looks like. Wow that is great. As my older teenager struggles with his faith I find myself "talking" him into church attendance, relying on God blah blah blah.
Maybe I need to "show" him how wonderful being a christian is. Huh, thoughts to ponder...


Susanne said...

Katherine what an awesome post. And so true. Sometimes we expect so much from the sermon parts at these camps but really it is the minute by minute being together and walking out faith before them all the while showing that having fun is okay mixed with faith.

LOL. You sound an awful lot like me, down to the serious and way boring part. Good for you for going and being open to seeing something in a different light yourself. I'm going to bookmark this post so that I can revisit it to remind myself to talk less and live my faith more in front of my kids.

Ginger said...

Great post and thoughts. 'Just doing life.' 'Trying my faith on for size until it becomes their own.' You said it so beautifully.

I'm excited to live in camp for a few years and see this process.

Donnetta said...

Today our teens come home from youth camp. I usually go with them, but this year having a new baby in the house prevented my trip.

I have been missing it and wondering what, exactly, was it I felt I was missing?

It wasn't the cold showers, getting little sleep, food, bugs, temp's ranging from hot to cold, etc. etc.

However, after reading this post, maybe that's exactly what I've missed. All those things with the kids that are part of just doing life together with them.

Rejoicing as God has not missed the time and is opening their eyes to what being a Christian day to day looks like.

Alleyn said...

That was a thoughtful post indeed! If I could express my thoughts like you do when I write, it would have been something very similar after spending the weekend with my 3 teens this past Spring retreat. I enjoy your posts. Thanks for the encouragemnt.

Lisa notes... said...

"Help me talk less and live more"--I love that. I need to learn to lighten up more often; I can overload on "serious" at times. Thanks for your great post reminding me of that!