Junior High is crazy. I went to 6th, 7th and 8th grade at Delphi Community Middle School when I was growing up. There were about 100 kids in my class and everyone knew everyone. We'd all gone to school together since Kindergarten. Our school was so small that the Middle School connected to the High School and shared a gym. Most of that time I was not really sure where I fit in.
Taylor and Courtney were my best friends but so were Evan and Bethany and Michelle--they were very different groups of friends. I ran Cross Country every Fall, tried Swimming out for a couple seasons and joined the Track team in the Spring. Every Sunday I went to church with my family and the youth group there became a big part of my life. I went to Tecumseh as a regular camper for a week each summer and it was always the best week of the whole year. Miss Long, my 8th grade English teacher, had a tremendous impact on me and made me want to be a middle school teacher one day. We went on field trips to Camp Tecumseh and Turkey Run. I had braces and glasses--the token sign of a middle school kid. I wish that Wyld Life could have been part of my middle school years.
Being a teacher lets me see my kids day after day in the classroom, but I'm always looking forward to spending Wyld Life nights with them. The setting is different, the culture of the community is different, the expectations are different. At Campaigners we greet every kid with a hug or a high-5. We smile a lot. We laugh a lot. We tell stories and ask questions and get to know each other.
Our HS students give up their night to hang out with these kids. Their lives speak one of my favorite verses from Philippians 3, "I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back." Tonight I got to watch and listen to Natalie, Julia, Anne and Genna share some of their own experiences with a group of Junior High girls and it was beautiful.
Junior High was crazy when I was thirteen and it's still crazy today. But I'm excited about continually showing up in their world to figure stuff out together. We don't always have deep conversations or great realizations, but I think just being together in this matters the most.
I'm thankful for Jayla's stories and hugs, for Brookie's giggles and enthusiasm and for all of the kids and leaders that make up this Wyld Life family.