Saturday, January 4, 2014

YL Winter Weekend 2014

Bright and early Friday morning we loaded the bus at HSE with all of our YL friends. We've been waiting for this Winter Weekend trip to Timberwolf Lake up in Lake City, MI for months and the day finally arrived. 59 of us loaded the bus and an extra van and headed north. We watched Mean Girls, played iPod shuffle, stopped for lunch at Subway and anxiously awaited getting to camp. 

At 4:30 we rolled into camp and ran to our cabins. Everyone was so excited to grab their bunks and move in to our weekend home. Coming back to Timberwolf is one of my favorite things. This is the first YL camp I ever went to and the one I've visited the most. This is my YL home away from home and I love that this place has become so special to these kids too.

Our first task was to attack the Young Life store. Young Life is so good at branding, marketing and continually making new things that you feel like you just need to have. Our girls all wanted everything but narrowed down their options to their favorites. They came away with some pretty sweet new things.

"SARAH WRIGHT?!" I heard someone say and turned around to find Tracy Benjamin standing in the middle of the store. Tracy and I were roommates freshmen year at Hope back in 2005 (holy cow that's a long time ago) and she has since been one of my favorite people. We figured out via Instagram that we'd both be at this Winter Weekend and we were so excited to see each other.

We had free time till dinner so we went to the gym to hang out and play. After being away from these kids most of break I was thrilled to be back with girls like Genna and Brookie that make me so happy.

This was the first time all of these girls have gone on a camp trip together and I loved being part of this dynamic.

Brookie and I are professional ballers. I got 20 baskets in a row and whooped her in the contest she didn't know about. Haleigh and Brooke Barnes were so excited to just be back in this place. We've been together on four camp trips now and I can't imagine doing this without them.

Dinner was delicious and Big Cookie was the grand finale to the meal. We dug in together and left not a crumb behind in that pie pan. Eating Big Cookie is one of our strengths.

Broomball is a camp favorite in the winter and some of our girls decided to try it out. It's basically hockey but you wear normal shoes on the ice and use these weirdly shaped sticks.

We had our first leader meeting of the weekend and gathered together to get more info on what was to come. This trip we got to lead with Stephen, JD, Riley, Abby, Lori Trulock, KCraig, Hannah, Sean and Jorge. These people volunteer their time and give of their hearts to love these kids and point them to Christ. I'm so thankful that these are the people I get to work with.

We rejoined our kids in the gym to play before our first club. Julia has been one of the main characters of my life this year and I love hanging out with her. She reminds me so much of my Freshmen self and I love seeing her heart and creativity.

I was so excited to get to lead a cabin with Hannah Blachly again this weekend. She comes back from Purdue to lead with us and I'm so thankful that she's willing to do that. Hannah is such a part of this family and she loves these kids.

It was so fun to be here with some of our Wyld Life leaders, the Juniors and Seniors that have stepped up this year to help with our middle school kids. Cefali, Brannt, Chad, Jacob, Maggie, Natalie and Hannah are incredible kids and I love getting to be friends with them.

I spotted a girl who looked familiar and just as I said, "I think we know each other," she said, "I was your server at Michindoh this summer!" Holly is a Senior in HS and was on work crew while we were at Wyld Life camp. She's so sweet and fun. We discovered that she's going to Hope next year and I freaked out right away.  We discovered more connections and found more Holland and Hope people that we both know.

Club is always one of my favorite parts of the day at Young Life camp. We get to see the new characters, see our friends play games up front, sing at the top of our lungs and hear from the speaker.

Grace won a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors against the whole room.

Butler got called up to be in a crowd surfing race around the room.

She was thrown on top of this mattress that was carried around the room. So fun.

Kelsey was our camp speaker, we fell in love with her last year at Fall Weekend. She's quirky and fun and weird and so good at helping us learn more about Christ.

We believe these things we were never created to think or believe. Those things become our story. But our story really begins with who we are and whose we are. 

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. -AW Tozer

God created you Tov Meod, the best of the very best. Your story begins with God knitting you together and taking time on you. 

The heart of God asks, "What are you looking for? What has been going on with you?" It's time to take an honest look at ourselves. What's the impact and influence that God could have on your life?

If nothing else, know that God says you are the best of the very best and he wants to live life with you.

After Club everyone headed to the gym for a giant dodge ball tournament. Several us danced in the back while we dodged balls but I somehow managed to get pegged in the side of the head too.

Back in our cabin we wrote Top 10 Things I'd Say To People If I Had The Guts before we started our cabin time. This group of girls is a mix of different grades and I have been so excited to be with all of them. They're all amazing kids and I loved sitting in a circle with them tonight and being real with each other. We talked till 2 am and finally headed off to bed. Hannah and I gave them each hugs in their bunks before I read them chapters from my blog and Cold Tangerines. Falling asleep in a cabin filled with friends is one of my favorite things.

We woke up Saturday morning for a leader meeting and then had breakfast in the dining hall. Eating around the table together is such a sweet part of camp that we don't always get to do back at home. We went to Club right away and sang and played together again before Kelsey's talk.

We take on this life that we were not created or intended to live. I think most of us would say we don't feel like the best of the very best all the time. We were designed as the best but we're living in this junky world. That's why Jesus came in human form to stand with us.

Jesus has the power and authority to step into our lives but he waits. He is patient with us. He wants to make us clean, make us healthy. He loves us unconditionally. But it's our decision to invite him in. 

We live with the attitude, "I want what I want," and try to find life apart from God. We live life bent over, carrying the weight of the pressures and pain and sin we were never intended to have. Are you just trying to make it work? How crippled and bent do you have to be to figure out that God has something SO much better for you?

You start to look down, hopeless and afraid. But that's not the posture that the God of the universe wants for you. Jesus says, "I came that you may have life and have it to the full." in John 10:10. 

We went back to our cabin for Cabin Time and shared in our circle again. Our girls talked about the weight of this world and the rocks that we've been carrying. I think we always realize during cabin time that we're a lot more alike than we are different. We find this common ground with each other and life becomes a lot more clear when we take a step back.

Then we found out we were going home. We were ticked and mad and sad and upset and annoyed. Ugh. So we all complained and yelled in our cabin for 30 seconds because sometimes you've just got to get it all out. But it was time for lunch so we went outside and met more of our ticked off friends.

Then we switched our attitude and started taking pictures like it was our job. If we were leaving early we were going to have to fit in 24 hours of pictures into the next hour.

My dream was to get a picture of these shirts at a Young Life camp. Boom. Dreams come true.

Keep in mind that it was FREEZING outside but we were incredibly hyper at this point and just wanted more pics at Young Life camp before we had to go home. The wolf howled for lunch but we got a couple more in before we ran inside.

These girls are some of the main characters of my life and I'm so lucky to get to be part of their story. I've already seen them grow so much in the past couple years and they've become my favorite people.

Of course we were sad to leave camp, but the saddest part was that we wouldn't all get to be together the rest of the time. Back at home everyone is so busy and it's impossible to all hang out for such a huge block of time. There is something magical and awesome about being together, no matter where you are.

Butler tried to do some flips in the snow. She landed on the snow mattress but it was cool.... cold... freezing...

We finally made it inside to lunch-- the funniest and saddest lunch ever because we were about to leave. We all chugged water together, played double tap, ate funfetti cookies and burnt potato chips, Genna rode Trulock like a horse and talked a little more about how we didn't want to leave.

We finally got our group picture of our HSE YL friends.

I'm continually blown away by this group of people and the amount of support, friendship and love between all of them. Blessed may be cliche, but this family has been so incredibly blessed in the past two years. Getting to lead with these people and walk alongside these kids is one of the very best parts of my life.

Going on this Winter Weekend trip was the perfect ending to this Winter Break. I got to start out at the CILT Reunion at Tecumseh with my other favorite HS kids and then end up here with this crew of rock stars.  An old friend of mine just told me that he was jealous of my life because I get to do all these awesome things.

One of the things I've learned since college is that I have to be intentional about making my life awesome. We all have to go to work and pay the bills and wash the dishes, but beyond that you get to decide how awesome your life will be. I know that God has called me to work with HS kids so He and I are going to go do a lot of that together. I'll jump into the opportunities around me and keep trying to point people back to him.

At the beginning of December Julia, Alli Sams and I made a quilt together at Quilt Camp. We secretly were making it as a gift for KCraig, our YL leader and friend. The fabrics and pattern remind us of Africa, a place that's near and dear to KCraig's heart. We attempted to sneak in and hide under the bunks but after that didn't work out we just gave it to her while we were packing. KCraig flipped out just like we expected and loved it.

We cleaned our cabins, loaded up the bus, made one last trip to the store to see if we needed anything and took a ton more pictures. I got to say good-bye to Tracy Benjamin, I loved getting to share this experience with her this weekend. Tracy has always been someone I admire and I would love to get to be one of her YL girls.

No one wanted to get back on the bus to head home because we all just wanted to stay and play the rest of the day at camp. We were here for just 22 hours but it was an awesome sleepover.

Kelsey, the speaker, came to say good-bye to us. We love her quirkiness and the spunk she has for life. Can you spot her in the green scarf?

I love getting lead with Hannah, KCraig, Trulock and Abby-- women who love Jesus and love HS kids with all their heart. They're selfless and humble and confident in who God created them to be.  They're the kind of people that prioritize the things that really matter and they're always trying to grow.

Kelsey got on the bus to say good-bye once we were all loaded up. She told us that even though we were missing the last couple club talks, she wanted us to know, "You are created Tov Meod, the best of the very best. You were made to come to Christ with the posture of standing up straight before him, not bending over broken with the weight of the world. Christ would always be there for us no matter and would never stop loving us."

We played games right after we left Timberwolf, watched Footloose and She's the Man, stopped at a rest stop and stormed the bathrooms, got dinner at Wendy's, tried to beat Candy Crush and did lots of talking as we squeezed in together on the bus.

We got back to HSE at 9:40 and greeted all of the parents who were relieved that we made it back safely. Snowmaggedon was set to start in the middle of the night and we all had to hunker down before the snow started falling. The trip wasn't what we expected but it was awesome. We were only together for a day but we always have fun together.

We didn't want the fun to end so we had a sleepover at Julia's house with most of the freshmen girls. Gosh, they're just so fun. I love getting to be one of their leaders. Camp continued here in Fishers as we hung out and had more cabin time together.

Tonight we wrote Top 10 Things I Wish I Would Have Learned Earlier. I think we learn so much about each other when we hear whats on our lists. These girls are right in the middle of figuring out who they want to be, who their friends are and what they want to be about. They're in this awesome, awkward, crazy, hilarious, confusing and exciting season of life. I've got so much faith in them and who they'll be at the end of all of this.

We still got to celebrate Kara's birthday at midnight and I read them a bedtime story from Cold Tangerines one more time. Sprawled all over the Dewolf's basement, we fell asleep happy that we were still together.

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