A major chapter is coming to a close. I've spent the last year and a half with these girls, sitting in a circle on Monday mornings talking about life and Jesus. They're the people I can't wait to see in the hall during passing period and the ones I show up at vball, bball, cross country, dance and track to cheer on. They've got more potential then they realize and they're some of the most fun loving kids I know. I'm so thankful that because of Young Life we'll keep being part of each other's lives.
Now we're running into the last week of school like these Junior High rock stars from every school in the county. I got to cheer on the 4 x 8 team before I had to leave for the barn. After an incredible season, the Clubhouse girls got third place overall tonight.
All Sophomores and Juniors interested in being a Wyld Life leader next year showed up at the barn for a meeting to learn more about WHY we do what we do and HOW we make that happen. Taking this step isn't for everyone, it's a sacrifice of time and energy, but the life that comes from being part of this community is a beautiful thing. I'm so excited for this ministry to keep growing and improving so we can love one another and serve Junior High kids even better.
Senior Night is the last Young Life event of the school year and so bittersweet. We gathered outside the barn one more time for worship.
Tonight, like all nights, we're thankful for all the groups of kids who make up this YL family. The Seniors...
and Junior High kids.
Tonight was another night for alumni to show up-- we ran to see Hannah when she pulled up in her car. These days I'm so confident that friendships can thrive even when people live so far away.
It's become a tradition on Senior Night to have all of our Seniors upfront as a panel. Ryan asks questions and opens the floor to them-- What's a specific memory with a leader or another YL friend that has stuck with you? How have you changed since you first walked into YL? What are you fearful about in the next season of life?
Then we tried something new. Each Senior got a spot on the wall with a giant sheet of paper behind them. All of the leaders, kids and parents in the room went and wrote behind them, filling up their paper with words of encouragement and support. The idea is that even when they can't see us, we are still behind them and with them every step of the way. These friendships and this community won't disappear when they head off on their next adventure.
This class is special for so many reasons. Anne, Kaitlyn and Genna were the first 7th grade girls to go to Wyld Life camp, in KCraig's cabin, back in 2011 at Timber Wolf Lake.
These girls were part of the first 8th grade girls bible study-- they'd show up week after week at coffee shops or Dairy Queen to read through The Story together. They were hungry in their faith and they asked important questions and they wanted to know more. It was one of my favorite seasons with them.
These are the girls I go to camp with-- to Michindoh, to Sharp Top, to Castaway, to Wilderness. We've done it all together-- lived in cramped cabins, beautiful dorms and tiny tents. We've driven across the country together and walked miles around camp on one on ones.
If the last five years of Young Life were a series of pictures, these girls' faces would be in almost every one.
I love how these Seniors have impacted the YL kids in the grades below them. They've made girls like Cassidy and Maddie feel at home here and welcomed them in as their best friends. So many of these Seniors have served as Wyld Life leaders and partnered with us in ministry.
Shauna's words from Cold Tangerines ring true when I think about this Senior class, "I began to love them, not because they were the finest, most-upstanding kids in our ministry, because actually they weren't. They had their moments of upstanding-ness, and they had moments of absolute insanity. I loved them because they were mine, because we were us, because of the funny and sweet and strange things they did and said. They're smart and honest and they make big mistakes and dream gorgeous bright dreams. They fall in love hard, sometimes with the right people and sometimes with the wrong people. Sometimes they tell me everything, and sometimes they try not to tell me things, but then the other girls tell me anyway. I think at this point, I know almost all the things they think I don't. And I love them more than they know."