By Drew Curiel, Tri-City City Life Director
For middle schoolers, it’s hard to imagine having fun for five days without your phone, surrounded by people you don’t really know, and in a place you’ve never been. Lots of our middle schoolers had their doubts about camp and they questioned why as leaders we would tell them, “Camp is where everything changes.” However, after being there and experiencing it, they got to truly see that when Jesus comes into your life- everything does change!
These kids got to experience things they might have never been able to! Lots of the campers went ziplining for the first time, met new friends, played in sports tournaments, rock climbed, and for many, got to be a part of a team. Some, for the first time, finally felt like they belonged. One student said, “I never felt so fit in with others…I wasn’t the black sheep like I was at home.” All of our kids got opportunities every day to share more of their stories and see how others are going through similar situations. Another student said, “I learned a lot about God and also that a lot of people are going through the same thing I am and that I am not alone.”
While camp was beautiful and kids were accepting Jesus into their lives, there were still others struggling to believe that a God they didn’t know could know everything about them and still love them. As the days went on, and more questions were being asked, one student who struggled throughout the week responded, “God showed me who He really is at camp, and He showed me that He is, truly, real.”
Camp will always be my favorite place because even though we go as a big group, Jesus meets each and every one of us individually. To hear another story of how camp changed one young man’s life, and many others, check out the story below.
By Abraham Curiel, Plymouth Co. Campus Life Director
As High School Camp approached, Colossians 3:23 was on my mind, and my goal was to reflect Jesus’s love towards these kids. I prayed for strength and patience for the leaders and myself, and when you pray for patience, God will give you opportunities to learn to be patient.
In comes Thomas, an 18 year-old camper. Prior to camp, I knew very little about Thomas or his story. From day one of camp, he was troubled with a lot going on behind the scenes that I didn’t know about. He was acting out, and at one point I believed it would actually be best for him to go home early. After a discussion with the camp head leaders, he was given one final chance.
Later that week, we were given the opportunity to go on a banana boat ride on the lake. Since we arrived Thomas had wanted to go on a boat ride. As the boys had fun on the ride, after falling off a couple times, suddenly Thomas was not well. He needed assistance getting to shore and couldn’t communicate clearly so I carried him off the dock fearing the worst. A local medical team was called in and I was able to be by his side, praying and talking to him until they arrived and transported him to the hospital.
By the time I got to the hospital room, his appearance was back to normal after receiving care. I was grateful he was okay, and figured there was no better time to ask if we could have an appointment.
Appointments at camp are intentional times to invite a student to dive deeper into who they are.
As I started to ask questions, I learned that he recently lost his father and the day we left for camp was Father’s Day. It was a soft spot for him and he didn’t know how to handle his emotions. I had compassion for Thomas and grew to love him right where he was.
As we returned to camp from the hospital, something big happened while we were gone. Our Siouxland students who saw what happened to Thomas were faced with the reality of death. Knowing that tomorrow isn’t promised and seeing Thomas come back a changed man, five young men said yes to Jesus for the first time, and six rededicated their lives to Him. Praise God! What the devil meant for harm, God used for good. I’m thankful for YFC Camp, my new relationship with Thomas, and these new and recommitted relationships with Jesus. While Thomas may still struggle with the pain of losing his earthly father, he now knows the Father who will never leave him.
Thank you for your support of Siouxland YFC. Because of your support, young people’s lives were changed at YFC Camp. We had a total of 54 students attend camp this summer, 27 saying yes to Jesus for the first time and 8 recommitting their lives to Him. If you’d like to be involved in the life change that happens at YFC Camp, you can visit our website or email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org.