Practicing Courage in Community

Reflecting on the recent Jr. High Winter Camp centered around the theme of courage
by Meagan Bergem
 
   A rambunctious group of nineteen youth, four Youth Leaders and several parents gather in The Habit parking lot packing up cars while eating french fries and anxiously awaiting car assignments. Taking a moment we begin to pray for travel mercies, health, sleep and for God to show up in tangible ways during the weekend. Students line up to pull a number that will determine with whom they will travel up the mountain to Sugar Pine Christian Camp. Mixed reviews occur as students hop into vehicles. Then in a moment of vulnerability that IGNITEs our groups attitudes towards one another took place in a simple but powerful gesture. One student overcome with anxiety was not excited to hop in a car, and as God would have it, another student who has dealt with similar anxieties was assigned to the same vehicle. She puts her arm around her friend saying, “You can sit with me, it’s going to be okay. I know how you feel.” An action of care, compassion, and courage by meeting someone where they are demonstrated God’s love in a tangible way. 
 
   The Winter Camp talks were centered around the story of Gideon and specifically living as a Mighty Warrior. Judges 6:12, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Courage was the theme of Jr. High Winter Camp. The students demonstrated courage by befriending one another in new ways, worshipping God through a new musical style, and sharing vulnerably with one another during cabin time. We have two brand new Youth Leaders who led our girls discussion time with grace and truth. Students shared for the first time with one another their struggles with faith in the midst of hardship and loss, depression, parental divorce or experiences of bullying. They responded to one another with tears, hugs, prayers and affirmations that they were not alone. They practiced courage by being open and honest in a way that drew us closer to God and one another. I was reminded why I love my job as these students ministered to me with their stories and courageous acts of compassion and vulnerability. Community was built among us and although there are a variety of personalities in our group, we have come to a place of love and respect for how we each reflect God’s image uniquely. 
 
Quotes from our Jr. High students
 
God is with you in the hard times so you can push through.” Shaya Schultz
“I experienced God this weekend when all the youth group bonded.” Elliot Fortmeyer 
“I want to remember that God will fight my battles and that he has a plan for my life.” Holden Murray
“God is calling me to invite friends to events or youth group and to be kinder to my sister.” Laura Crantz
“I have seen that God doesn’t just call the brave, but will make the called brave.” Rileigh Armstrong
I want to remember growing closer with friends, being able to be emotional and not be ashamed, and how to apply God’s word to my everyday life.” Claire Predmore 
“God is saying to me that I need to stay positive toward people I don’t like or bother me.” Andrew Vaccaro 
“God is with me in the most hard and sad days of life and God will always help me through it.” Nadia Waggoner
“I’ve experienced God this weekend during cabin time, because my family is going through a rough time and sharing how I felt made me feel closer to God and to my friends.” Alex Meadors 
“I experienced God during cabin time while we talked about the questions and prayed.” Kade Beal 
“I experienced God by just looking up at the universe & knowing that God made it and it is infinite.” Jesse Ellis 
“God will always be by your side now matter what.” Adrianna Rodriguez