As a kid I never went to summer camp, but as an adult I have been to camp twice. Last year was my first camp experience as I went with my work and about 100 junior high kids from the Omaha area to a camp in Boone, Iowa. This year I made the trip to the Quaker Ridge Camp in Woodland Park Colorado with our high school students. Though both camps were similar, this year changed me – I took two teenage parents from the program I have helped launch, Parent Life.
I was a bit hesitant about this journey as my health has changed from last year. I knew that many of the physical aspects of camp would be something I wouldn’t be able to enjoy. I was also a bit concerned that these two beautiful women may not get along with one another or maybe they wouldn’t fit in with the other teens at the camp.
We knew that the trip would take us about 12 hours (gas stops, restroom and eating). As we began our journey at one o’clock in the morning (yes you read that right, we slept through some of the trip) I didn’t have much of an opportunity to chat with them, but once we arrived at camp the fun began!
Both of these moms are similar in some aspects of their lives, but different in a few ways as well. Each night we sat down and had a discussion about the day and answered some questions that were given to us by our camp speaker. Because I was sharing my life testimony in front of the large group of 250 teens, I couldn’t always give them my true feelings or examples. At times I felt like I was holding back from them. Little did we all know that the end of the trip would change how we viewed one another.
During the week we were scheduled to participate in typical outdoor camp activities. On one of the days, we were able to conquer a few of the teens fears: horseback riding AND the ropes/zip line! As a group we rode several beautiful horses around the wooded acreage. My teen moms had never ridden on a horse and you could see and hear their excitement as the horses gently swayed through the brush and grass.
As we began our next activity at the ropes course, I could tell that both of the teens were anxious yet, ready to get it over with! Both slowly began their climb. I cheered them on, took pictures and prayed-HARD. The first one scooted across and then the next one did the same. As I watched these two 18 year old women conquer their fears, I suddenly began to cry. It wasn’t a gentle cry; it was a sobbing, ugly cry – the ones that you see women do on reality TV. I wasn’t sure why I was so overtaken until I saw that our camp speaker was standing next to me. I asked him “JJ, how do I ever tell these two girls how proud I am of them?” He replied “Carey, you just say what you said to me!”
As they came off of the 575 foot zip line, they both walked up a hill to greet me with open arms. They both embraced me and let me hold on to them and tell them how proud I was of them. Little did I know they had heard me sobbing and they already knew my true feelings for them. I couldn’t hide it anymore. This isn’t just a job for me; this is a family. The teens and their children mean the world to me and I will never, ever be able to repay God for His love and kindness that week.
There is a song that I love that really sums up our time at camp, here are a few lyrics (and video below) from the song “You Make Me Brave” by Amanda Cook and Bethel Music
“You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way
As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in”
If you thought the story ended on that ropes course, it didn’t. That night, these two brave women also said YES to Jesus and since returning to Omaha, have begun a life changing relationship with God. They have shown more bravery in their short lives than many adults I know. I couldn’t be more proud of them.
Thanking God for these brave teens,