The sun shines long today.
As the day unfolds, many teens and young adults will lounge by a pool, hit the beach, or play a sport.
This is as it should be.
But there are teenagers out there that are doing more than just laze around. I had the privilege of getting to know them as I taught clinics in Life Skills at Van Buren Youth Camp this week.
You know, it’s interesting about teens. There is almost an unwritten language among them about how “into” the leadership theories they should be. They look around the group before responding, checking out body language from their peers. If they are getting eye contact or feel others nod as they speak, it’s as if an invisible curtain is lifted, they drop their learned persona and speak from their hearts.
This is when I know I have gotten through.
My message to these young leaders is simple. Just by putting in the effort to BE at a week of leadership training will put them up above the rest that chose to just hang at home.
As they took in my message, they sat straighter, they shared more, they engaged.
It not only lights their fires but it lights mine.
As one of their clinic leaders, I know when they linger after the session to talk, or share something meaningful with the group, or even just quietly take it all in, they are growing exponentially in their brains and more importantly, in their hearts.
Van Buren Youth Camp has not changed this week at the beginning of the summer for decades. Surely, they have changed speakers and changed to be relevant with the times, but the gist of Leadership Training Camp remains. Dottie and Nayt, the directors, have put a year of training into this summer. They have attended workshops of their own and hired the very best staff to assist in moving these ideals forward.
I go back there every year for one thing. I want to witness the metamorphosis. It will happen in kids that really want to take in what is offered.
When parents see them again on Saturday, there will be a palpable difference in their young adult. They will tend to give more eye contact. They may do some unexpected chores. The conversations may take a new and deeper connection.
Of course, there is no guarantee. Some teenagers are simply not ready to be leaders. Some will continue to look to peers for gratification. Some will dwell on the primitiveness of the bathhouse. Still others will continue to put up the walls and not allow the message to resonate.
But all will have made a step toward wholeness.
If you ask any person who has ever attended this camp, you will understand from them, that there is Camp Magic. It is in the freedom to be who they are, in the creativity of stretching their imaginations, and the fact that cell phones and technology take a hard back seat.
I wish every teen had the chance to spend a leadership week here.
Thanks for listening.