Unexpected Expectations

by - 10:57 AM

I just got home from spending 4.5 days with a bunch of crazy teenage girls at 9,000 ft elevation. I was surrounded by clouds of dirt, spiders, rodents, no cell service and I got unbearably ill. But I loved every minute.

Here's how it all went down:

I was called (assigned) to be the assistant camp director for our church's annual Girls' Camp. This is a huge event where all of the Young Women ages 12-17 get together and do some pretty adventurous things for about a week. I was mostly excited for the opportunity, but still pretty intimidated because teenagers scare me. 

The night before we were to leave for camp, I got a call from the head camp director informing me that she was unable to attend, so it would just be me and one other leader. 

No pressure.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. making last minute arrangements and packing for the week. I wanted everything to be perfect and for the girls to have the best camp of their lives! 

We arrived at the camp ground the next day, and as with most teenagers, I noticed these girls had their own formations of friends within the group, and that they didn't make many strides to get to know the other girls. This reminded me of when I was a teenager; I was outcast by my peers and it made me feel so small. It was a heavy load that I carried for all of high school.

I didn't want that for these girls. 

As the days went on, the girls participated in team building activities, service projects, spiritual devotionals, and hours upon hours of a silly game called "signs". It was such a beautiful thing to witness these girls realize their own individual worth and the acceptance of one another. 

I should also mention that the girls were not allowed to bring any electronics aside from a camera. I cannot express to you the relief that was present because of the lack of social media, polluted music, and politics. It was just us and the mountains. 

On the last night of camp, our ecclesiastical leaders came all the way up in the mountain to bring us pizza and soda. We spent our dinner time having a burping contest--that was perhaps the most bonding we had done all week! 

After dinner, we built a fire and had another spiritual hour. This one was different, though. The girls were given time to share their own experiences and their testimonies of their Savior. As camp director, I went first to set the mood, followed by our other leader. When she was finished, there was a long, uncomfortable silence around us... I prayed in my head that some girl would stand up and share something. A few more adults stood and shared, and then, finally, one of my girls. She was followed by several others, and my heart was full. The girls were crying, and saying how much they loved each other. They said it was the best camp they had ever had and they hoped they would all stay friends. 

That was a payoff moment. 

As I prepared for Girls' Camp, I was so worried about how on Earth I would fill all of the free time we had scheduled. I was concerned that the girls wouldn't break their cliques and embrace one another. I was worried that they wouldn't like me and that I would fail them completely. 

I worried for nothing. 

The best part about camp was when the girls decided for themselves what they wanted to do to fill their free time. Sure, I had lots of crafts and activities planned, but when the Spirit takes over, you just have to let it do it's thing. That is what brought the girls so close. 

I am so grateful that I could be a part of this experience. Teenagers are a fantastic bunch. Who would have thought that I would have made such close friends with girls 10 years younger than me?

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