Something that I’ve had to come to terms with this summer and more specifically the past couple of weeks, is that I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what this afternoon holds, tomorrow holds, or next year holds. I can plan for it all I want, I can dream, hope, and pray about it, I can work as hard as humanly possible for what I want, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. The only person that knows what the future holds is God.
Specifically I’ve been learning this through realizing this might be my last summer at camp, if you know me at all you know how hard that is for me to even think about. I guess I always knew at some point I would have to leave camp, but I don’t think I realized that the point would come so soon. At the beginning of this summer I came into camp just thinking it’s another summer, and I was so excited, I even started thinking about what position I might want to apply for next year. But now as we are at the end of our second to last week I am finding myself begging for time to slow down, begging for more time here, for summer to start all over so I can do small things differently, realizing now that this could be it for me at the place that I love so dearly, the place that I call home.
If you don’t know me, or don’t know my story you might be curious as to why this camp is so important to me, so let me tell you. When I was in 6th grade I didn’t have a lot of friends, the Church camp I went to the previous year was less than great, my home life was not great, and I was not in the best place mentally. I was very nervous coming to Youthfront with my church, because I didn’t really know anybody in my group, but also excited because my first church camp was fantastic, and I had heard great things about Youthfront. My anxiety was through the roof the entire 3.5 hour drive it took to get to camp, but as soon as I stepped outside of the van an immediate peace fell over me. After probably 20 minutes of being at camp I remember turning to my church leader and saying “I’m going to work here when I’m older”, they kinda gave me the ‘look’ you know the one of saying “ya ok kid you’re in 6th grade calm down.” That week I was loved on by my cabin leaders and the girls in my cabin more than I think I’d ever been loved on before. I saw a community of people that loved each other, but loved Jesus so much more. And I had the best week of my life! The next two years I came back and had similar experiences, the more I came, the more I fell in love with Youthfront Camp West. I continued going to camp at the high school camp, Youthfront Lacygne (then south) and volunteering at West with Teen Staff until my junior year of high school when my church changed camps and I couldn’t afford to drive 3 hours with a full time job in the summer. Those 3 years without youthfront were 3 of the worst years of my life, not necessarily because I didn’t have camp, but not having that community made them even harder.
Last summer my dream came true and I got to be a cabin leader for the summer, this year I got to come back on program staff and be more behind the scenes as one of the office managers/program assistant, which I love. Youthfront is so special to me because of the love and support I experience every time I’m here. But it’s also so important because God used Youthfront as a huge part in my life. When I was a camper I began to talk about my home life for the first time, as a Teen Staff I shared for the first time that I had been struggling with self harm for several years, and as a staff both years I started sharing more and more of my story. At camp something bad always seems to happen, but with each hard thing I was supported and loved more than I knew possible, I was prayed over and reminded that the Lord is good and faithful no matter what, and He is bigger than anything I could ever face, and I never have to face it alone. I say this in all seriousness, God used Youthfront to save my life and I don’t know where I would be without Youthfront. I wanted to be staff because I wanted to serve this camp that the Lord used to help me. I wanted to make sure that campers felt the love of God that I got to feel as a camper/teen staff.
Earlier this summer someone told me to live like it’s my last summer just in case. I’m so glad I’ve done that for the most part, I don’t know what will happen next summer, I don’t know if this is my last summer here, I don’t know if I’ll get to come back to volunteer if it is. But I know that every second I’ve spent here, I’ve grown closer to God, I’ve loved more, and felt more love than anywhere else. I know that the 29 weeks I’ve spent here over the course of my life have been some of the best 29 weeks I’ve ever had. I know that without a doubt Youthfront Camp West is doing amazing things for the Lord and I am honored that I got to be a very small part of that for even a moment. Youthfront Camp West is my home, and the community is my family. Even though it’s hard to think about ever leaving this place even if it’s just for the school year, the Lord has an amazing plan for me and my life, and He has one for you and your life too.
I encourage you to live like it’s your last summer, month, day, second, because honestly it could be. Whether that is because God has something different in store for you, or whether your time here on earth is done. We aren’t guaranteed our next breath, so live every second to the fullest, because when you look back you don’t want to have regrets. So trust in God, even when it’s hard and you don’t understand why things are happening.