Just a Bunch of Teenagers

Teenager. It comes with so many negative connotations. Apathetic. Lazy. Indecisive. Distracted. The world views teenagers as capable of going to school, working part time jobs and doing the best they can to not get into trouble. The expectations for teenagers are low and the results often live up to those expectations. Rarely are they taught or mentored into maturity, strength, health and wholeness with any sort of intentionality.

I have a different story.

It’s our fifth week at camp here at the Ranch. That means five weeks of a bunch of teenagers living together and giving it their all. Right about now, energy is running low and the feeling of “will this ever end” may start to settle in for some. Showering has become something of a luxury that there’s not always time for.

This work is not for the faint of heart. Teenage cabin leaders live twenty-four-seven with nine or so children, stay up late to facilitate hard conversations or just to stargaze with their campers, then wake up at the crack of dawn for staff devotionals, all while living in hot cabins on hard bunks.

Some of the summer leadership staff are just a few years older. Their days are spent down at waterfront guarding all day, or mentoring younger staff and helping them work through life, or cooking in the kitchen from 7am to 8pm, or sweeping and mopping floors, or sleeping out at tree forts, or sweating it out in the sun for long days at the barn, or taking sick campers to the nurse, or running wide games, or acting in skit after skit after skit, or praying for everyone they come in contact with.

Now, I know as I’m explaining this it may not sound that bad -and you are absolutely correct. Sometimes among the busyness of it all, I forget to mention that it is the absolute best.

Last night, after a particularly wild and full day of dealing with seemingly every camper behavioral problem you could ever think of, my roommate and I were getting ready for bed and debriefing our day. I compared my day to riding a roller coaster, through a maze, spinning upside, backwards, while trying to solve a riddle. As we laughed at the realness and the hilarity of the metaphor, we both sighed. Then she remarked, “And somehow, it’s still the absolute best.”

I agreed wholeheartedly, “There’s nothing in the world I’d rather be doing.”

Why?

Because when I see our team, a bunch of teenagers, stop to encourage each other and remind each other that their capacity to work is great and they are even greater, my eyes well up with tears.

Because at the end of campfire, when I go and ask a ten-year-old girl why she is crying and she looks up and says, “God’s just telling me for the first time how much I mean to Him and how important I am”, my heart explodes.

Because we push each other, we encourage each other, we challenge each other, and more than anything else, we are a team together, a team that’s goal, mission and purpose is to introduce campers to Jesus.

Teenagers have a far higher capacity than I believe the most people see. They are capable of leading 80 campers through a fun, exciting, and meaningful week at camp with joy and intentionality. They are capable of working as a team that builds each other up and refuses to tear each other down. They are capable of surrendering our lives to Jesus so he can use them to bring the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

They are capable. Why? Because He is capable, and they are His.

 
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Gabriella Hubbard

Gabriella is from Kingston, Ontario. She recently completed her first year at the University of Toronto and just came back from an amazing trip to India! This Summer, she is our Head Girl. Gabriella helps to ensure campers and counsellors are having the best possible summer.

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