Written by, Rob O’Donnell, WyldLife Representative, Eastern Division
As WyldLife leaders, we have a lot of different hats to wear at camp. Many of our students are experiencing overnight camp for the first time. With that experience come many thoughts and feelings. Normally, they would go to their parents, but instead, we get to be there for them.
As their leaders at camp, we have a very important role to play in their lives. We are called to “not only share the Gospel, but our lives as well.” This can take on many different forms during a week of WyldLife camp.
The students who come with us are at various places developmentally. Some students will need more care and “one-on-one time,” while others we may have to track down every time there is an event or meal. We need to be able to recognize each individual’s needs and cater to those needs as best we can.
Middle schoolers do not want to be treated like elementary school students any longer. At the same time, there is a healthy anxiety for them as they step off of the bus into a new place, far away from home, and without their parents. We want to create an environment where they can explore and grow in a healthy and safe way. We want them to take risks, try new things, and to begin stepping into maturity.
As they try new things during the week, we have an opportunity to come alongside and care for them. They do not need someone hovering over them every moment, but we do want them to know that we want to spend time with them. It all boils down to “earning the right to be heard.”
As we care for them, they’re gaining a sense of self, because we’re treating them as individuals. They are beginning to understand who they are and that they can make decisions for themselves. This is so important, because during the week we’re going to ask them to consider the greatest decision they’ll ever make!
If we’re babysitting them, they will continue to look to someone else to make that decision for them. If we care for them well, they will understand it is their decision to make, and that we will continue to walk through that decision with them.
As you prepare for WyldLife camp, take some time to pray that the Lord will reveal to you how to care for each camper individually. It sounds like a daunting task, but God knows each of the kids who are coming. Pray for the knowledge of when to step back and when to engage with kids. Remember, when we’re at camp, we are on holy ground! God has gone before us, and we can pray with great expectations that our WyldLife friends will come to know Him!