This guest post was written by Zach Martin, a sophomore at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Zach leads Young Life with Mid-Tex YL in Temple, Texas. You can follow him on Twitter at @zachmartinYL.
My Young Life story has nothing to do with becoming a Christian. I had done that 10 years before, but we’ll get to that. The main story is how I got to camp.
In high school, I had never experienced Young Life. I went to a small private school, and Young Life was not available to us. I had one friend in high school named Charlie who went to a nearby public school’s club, and he never stopped talking about Young Life. He was constantly asking me to go to this funky place called “Crooked Creek,” which I thought was an odd name for a camp.
He told me that it would be “the best week of my life”. I told him that I did not know anyone that even remotely had anything to do with Young Life, and wouldn’t know anyone other than him there. He assured me that it did not matter, and that I would make friends quickly. I remained greatly opposed to it, and told him he could not persuade me otherwise.
One day in the summer of my junior year of high school, Charlie came into my work and asked me one last time if I wanted to go to Colorado. I asked him when he was leaving, and he said “Tomorrow”. I told him there was no way that I could get the $900 for camp and the time off of work on such short notice. He told me he could get it done, and I told him (thinking it was impossible) that if he could get the money for me and get me time off, that I would go to camp.
Not even two hours later, Charlie runs into my work with a big smile on his face. Realizing that he somehow accomplished his goal, I regretted making the deal with him. He informed me that he made a call, and that an anonymous person donated the $900 for me to go to camp, and that my dad had been on the phone with my boss and got me time off to go to camp.
This was it. I was going to camp. I was leaving the next day to make a journey to Colorado on a bus full of people I didn’t know with an organization I knew nothing about. I was not happy, but a deal is a deal.
As I pulled up to the church we were leaving from, I became increasingly nervous. I didn’t want to go. I was uncomfortable and unwilling to open up.
That ended quickly.
I walked onto the bus and was met with a wave of cheers and greetings. I must have met 50 people in the first five minutes. It was insane. God took control right then and there and dominated my doubt.
And you know what? It was the best week of my life.
At camp, I built friendships I still maintain today, and I also was able to watch my entire cabin accept Christ. When we were doing the new Christian camp walk, I later found out that I was watching my new friends leaning about their new life in Christ on the 10th anniversary of my acceptance of Christ.
Young Life has changed my life. Once I got to college, I immediately looked for the first opportunity possible to do Young Life, and it’s been a wild ride. I’ve met people from all across the world who are all connected by people I met at Crooked Creek. Young Life is huge, and all you have to do is look around, and chances are someone you see has been involved and had their life changed by Young Life.
Here’s my point: camp changes lives. Non-christians, Christians, kids, adults, everyone. They say it’s the “best week of your life” because IT IS. It changed my outlook on life, and on my career. Young Life is a community I never want to live without, and I will make sure it stays that way.
I am forever in debt to that anonymous donor, and to my friend Charlie, who made the phone call. Your gifts, be them financial, prayer, or just working logistics CHANGE LIVES.
I would never have gone without the prayer and financial gifts of others. They made all of this possible.
So, if I can get any point across, let it be this: Pray hard, Give fully, Love well. When you do that, amazing things can happen.