Happy end-of-summer, folks! My name is Ginny and I am a Young Life Area Director for international schools in The Netherlands. I moved here right before the pandemic to start Young Life and am celebrating the fact that we just had our first summer camp! This was like no other YL camp I’ve experienced, and as I am processing through it, I want to share some thoughts of what God is teaching me.
I’ve brought kids to summer camp for the past 6+ years, had multiple summer assignments, and spent many weekends at Windy Gap serving on the assigned team for nearby areas. Basically, I was beyond blessed to fully know the excellence of Young Life camping and participate in it pretty regularly.
But this time, I had to figure out how to apply our core values of camping in a place that has never even heard of Young Life.
We had 15 kids, 2 areas, a few brand new leaders, and one “luxury” coach bus take us on a two-hour journey to our camp. Our on-property activity was bubble soccer, our water activity was an excursion to a lake on a chilly, overcast day where there was only shallow water for standing, and one of our students was from a totally different country, there to basically learn English.
Guys, it felt like chaos.
The first three days, I was praying for success. Are we doing enough for kids to have fun? What is the expectation? What will I communicate to donors? How do the other staff and volunteers think this is going? How will kids respond and in turn tell their parents?
Night three, we had the cross talk. Our speaker did an incredible job bringing the work of Jesus to life before we sent our students out for their 15 minutes of quiet. It was raining (welcome to Holland!), so we spread chairs out for kids inside. I went to the common room and sat on the floor. The kids were silent and it was beautiful.
Then… I hear Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” playing.
Our camping facility was more like a conference center and was shared by a few groups during our week. Next door there was a group of teenagers who continually blasted party music. It became a running joke, but as I was spending my 15 minutes praying for kids, I was distracted, then frustrated, then I started laughing. A friend once told me “laughter is exhaled grace.” That was this moment.
I came to the beautiful realization that THIS is what camp is. This is what Young Life is. We give God what we have and He is the only one who can use it. And maybe what we have to offer is 15 minutes with Beyonce in the background. And you know what God can do? Bless it.
Our little baby camp, with no five-star accommodations (ask about Dutch meal plans then pray for our carb intake!), no wild excursions, not even a swimming pool, was our offering. It still is. He is still using it. I actually had a follow-up conversation with a kid just last night. They are wanting to take that leap because of how much they loved camp. They even told me it was the first time they hadn’t bitten their nails to the core because of anxiety. They felt safe.
God has brought me to the scripture of Mary pouring her perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiping it with her hair. Not only was it what she had to offer, but it was also a BIG DEAL. Her perfume was expensive, her reputation was put on the line, her vulnerability was on full display, and her faith that Jesus was the Messiah was confirmed. Our camp, your time, the energy it takes for you to get together with high schoolers or plan a club…No matter how small the amount you have to offer, your offering is a big deal.
Leaders, God is looking at us smiling.
When we feel frustrated that things aren’t as excellent as we want, or things are beyond our control, he sees what we have to offer and he blesses it. Do not hoard. Do not fear. Live in that space of offering and enjoy the anticipation of what God can do with what little we have to give Him.