Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Remedy For Fear & Exhaustion

Written by Ryan Weston, Area Director in Pitt County, NC. 

Many of us leaders have tons to be excited about and to thank God for. We have come off a full year of powerful ministry where we've begun relationships with new kids that have in turn begun new relationships with the Lord. Maybe you've seen miracles. Maybe you've seen transformation. Maybe you've even seen God yourself. 

A driven leader would immediately jump into solid follow-up with summer Campaigners, doing quiet times together with kids after camp, and maybe even looking for churches or openings in Work Crew spots still available for our kids. All great things. Before you know it, you'll be at the leader kick-off and Club- planning-party. You'll be on the sidelines at football camps and promoting fall camp once again

But today, before any of that happens, REST.

In the Old Testament, we read about the prophet Elijah. He had just had a great year with God, too. He watched fire come out of logs soaked with water. He witnessed the visible power of God. 

He also saw prayer answered when he prayed for a storm to water a parched land. You'd think if anyone would be refueled and refreshed it was would be him. But just because the land was no longer parched didn't mean Elijah wasn't. 

In 1 Kings 19, this mighty man of God was overtaken by fear, panic, exhaustion, hunger and thirst. 

Is that you? 

Are you fearful of what next year may have for you? 
Are you panicking about relationships or classes? 
Are you tired, but not in the way that a good night's sleep or even a week-long vacation can heal? 

Elijah knows what it's like. In a place of honest discouragement, he seeks the Lord and the Lord says to him to go out on the mountain and wait for His Presence.

When Elijah obeys and walks out on the mountain a mighty wind comes and knocks down the rocks, but God wasn't in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake, then a fire, but no God. 

Quite often I look to big signs of power as evidence of God. 

"Oh God, bring someone to my door with just what I need to hear."

But God showed up to Elijah that day in the same way He still does with us: in a gentle whisper. 

I heard once that the translation for gentle whisper was referencing something that could only be found in audible silence. 

What we need is the type of rest that only Jesus can offer. With the time left between now and the re-launch of a new school year, let's sit in the silence with Jesus. He loves us and has so much to say! 

"My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." -Exodus 33:14

Where God is, rest follows. 
What our middle and high school friends need is healthy followers of Jesus. 

Rest well. Rest in Him. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dance Through The Decades

We recently hosted an epic dance party that began with a 50's style sock hop followed by a "dance through the decades." Below are some helpful details, along with a mp3 of the music that you can download if you want to pull off a similar event. Could be a great way to kick off the new semester in August or September! 


Costumes
  • Kids wore white tshirts and jeans.
  • We had hair gel for the guys.
  • My incredible mom cut out dozens of felt letters with stick on backs so each gal could have her first initial to stick on her shirt.
  • We got dozens of SteakNShake hats donated for anyone who wanted to wear them.
  • We also ordered these 50's glasses on Amazon for about $1/pair, but they were a hit!
  • I borrowed a red striped vest from a friend in a barbershop quartet. 

Food

To start off the event we dressed as soda jerks and served bottled Cokes and ice cream sundaes as kids arrived. We got the bottle sodas from Costco and they required a bottle opener, so that meant the soda jerks were able to interact with each kid and open their drink. We got Coke, Sprite, Root Beer, Cream Soda, and Coke Life. We had lots of ice cream that we served and kids could put their own toppings on top. 



Decor

Music 

Download the 56 min mp3 here

14 min - 50's dance music as kids arrive
8 min - "sock hop" music
27 min - dance through the decades
7 min - exit music

  • The first 14 mins of music on the track are snippets of 50's dance music to play as kids come in, get their cokes, ice cream and pics taken. 
  • At the 14 min mark, pause the music and get everyone together to do the hand jive, then Twist & Shout, etc...
  • At the 21 min mark, tell everyone, "I'm tired of these oldies, let's dance through the decades!"
  • At the 47 min mark, wrap it up and there's 7 more mins of "exit music" to play after the dance ends. You could use that music for a bathroom break before announcements, a couple content songs and a talk.

Here is a list of the songs clips in order:
  • Johnny B. Good
  • Ring of Fire
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Great Balls of Fire
  • Hound Dog
  • Tutti Fruitti
  • Blue Suede Shoes
  • Shout (You Make Me Wanna)
  • Born to Hand Jive
  • The Twist
  • Rockin Robin
  • Twist and Shout
  • Let's Get It Started
  • I Want You Back
  • YMCA
  • Stayin' Alive
  • Girls Just Want to Have Fun
  • Thriller
  • Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
  • I Wanna Dance With Somebody
  • U Can't Touch This
  • I Will Always Love You
  • Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Theme Song
  • Cha Cha Slide
  • Lip Gloss
  • Cupid Shuffle
  • Single Ladies
  • Party In The USA
  • Baby
  • All I Do Is Win
  • Best Song Ever
  • Do The John Wall
  • Boyfriend
  • Shut Up and Dance
  • Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)
  • 24K Magic
  • Juju on that Beat
  • Don't Let Me Down
  • Hit The Quan
  • Can't Stop The Feeling
Special thanks to Justin McWilliams for editing the playlist! The playlist was the single key to making it feel like such a fun party!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Get a Free Slurpee Today!

Celebrate an American tradition with your Young Life friends today! Every July 11th 7-Eleven gas stations offer free 7.11 ounce Slurpees at any of their locations. Easy, fun, free contact work. Find a 7-Eleven near you here.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Free Chick-fil-A Tomorrow: Cow Appreciation Day

Grab your high school friends and head to Chick-fil-A tomorrow, Tuesday, July 11th, for Cow Appreciation Day. If you partially dress like a cow, you get a free entree.

Some ideas for dressing up from CowAppreciationDay.com

Start With What You Already Have
Cow-printed accessories stashed in your closet will work perfectly. Hats, vests, scarves, neckties, pants, shoes, pajamas - just about any cow-spotted item will work. Just make sure you're covered head to toe.

Wear White & Just Add Spots
Throw on a white T-shirt with white pants (even sweatpants) and stick on your spots using black contact paper. If contact paper is not easily accessible, you can cut spots out of construction paper and tape them to your shirt and pants. If nothing else, you can grab an old white T-shirt and color black spots all over it with a sharpie - and you'll still get a free entrée.

Paint Store
Go to local paint or hardware store & get a white painter's hat and overalls. Then decorate yourself with spots made out of contact or construction paper.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

When Kids Back Out of Camp

I met Alex in August of 2011, his freshmen year of high school. He was a stud athlete and undercover smart. He would show up every now and then at club, but was mostly consumed with school and sports. In the spring, I made it to a few of his track meets and we slowly began a friendship.

The next year, Alex got plugged into Campaigners, went to camp, and even started mentoring some guys in the grade below him. His maturity and initiative had me thinking this guy was going to be on Young Life staff someday.


The summer after his sophomore year, everything changed.


Alex got his license, a girlfriend and a job. He ended up making some new friends that were not the best influences on how he spent his free time. Pretty soon, my text messages and phone calls weren't being returned. I even got blocked on Twitter. I felt frustrated, defeated, and heart-broken. 


For his last two years of high school, I couldn't break through the walls he had built up. Alex stopped caring about grades. Stopped coming to Young Life. And his reputation had gone from goodie-two-shoes to the first kid you call when you need a quick fix.


I remember our encounter at his high school graduation. As he walked past me, our eyes met and we both paused. It seemed his eyes were filled with such confusion. It was like seeing both a stranger and a dear old friend, wrapped up in one person. Trying to figure out the appropriate interaction for the moment, I gave in and offered a hug. His mom took a picture. And that was that. 


Another eighteen months went by with no communication.


Last year around Christmas our family was eating out at a local spot. I heard my name and recognized the voice. It was Alex. Seemingly sincere, he offered a gesture. 


"We should get together, man. Like old times." 


I told him "I'd like that. Call me tomorrow and let's set it up. I'm not going to call you. If you really want to hang out, you call me." 


I didn't hold my breath.


When his name popped up on my phone the following day, I still remained guarded. I wasn't getting my hopes up. We didn't talk long, just enough to set up a time to grab lunch a few days later. 


I arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early and Alex was already there. We small-talked over chips and salsa and before the waiter even took our order, I just bluntly laid my cards on the table. 


"Why did you want to meet with me?"


His demeanor immediately changed. He dropped the cool guy cloak. His eyes got glossy. And he just said three words, "I'm tired, man." 


"Tired of what?" I asked.


"I'm tired of this life I've been living. I remember how things used to be. I remember how I felt at camp. I remember how close I used to feel to God. But, now. Now, it's just a memory. And I think I'm finally ready for a change."


I was stunned, but eventually replied. "I've been waiting to hear you say those words for the last three and half years. And if you're for real, I'm going to walk right beside you through this."


I read him some of Luke 15 out loud. Our waiter came and Alex didn't even want to order food. He just wanted to talk. He was for real. 


Over the past six months, we've met together almost every week. He just finished a month of summer staff at a Young Life camp. This summer he's in a Campaigners group with other college guys.


But then today, I found out another high school guy I really love just backed out of camp. Getting that text felt like a punch in the gut. I've been doing this almost two decades and it never gets easier. You give your heart away and then it gets handed back to you.


Finding out he was no longer going to camp, I felt so frustrated and hurt I didn't know what to do. So I just sat down at my desk and prayed. And then I remembered Alex. And I just started typing out his story. 


And as I typed, the confusion faded from my own eyes.


I remembered that God's ways 

are often much slower. 
And way more beautiful. 
Than my ways will ever be.|| 

"The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:25-26

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Summer Staff Needs?

We've received lots of social media messages and emails asking to spread the word to help fill summer staff gaps in the remaining summer camp sessions. If you're aware of a camp that has Summer Staff slots that need to be filled, either comment below or email us and we'll add the info to this post. If you are able to do Summer Staff at any of the properties, contact them directly. 

Crooked Creek
Session 3 

Males - Kitchen

Lake Champion
Session 3 (July 28-August 15)

Rockbridge
Session 3 (July 25-August 17)

Males 

Southwind

Trail West
Session 2 
Males

Washington Family Ranch - Canyon side
Session 2 (July 13-August 8)

Males

Washington Family Ranch - Creekside
Session 2 (July 10-August 4)
Males


Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Walking God

Years ago, I had my first summer camp assignment as a work crew boss at Sharptop Cove. As a young staff person, I remember curiously watching our camp director. He seemed to always be walking around camp, slowly, with another person from the assigned team by his side. It was Wednesday of that first week when he invited me to set down my weed-eater and join him for a stroll. 

We walked around together for probably an hour. I remember how it made me feel so cared for that the head honcho wanted to spend time with me. And that he wasn't distracted. And that he wasn't in a hurry.

This summer I've had the privilege of taking some slow walks with a few of my high school friends. It's felt quite different from the typical contact work scenarios. No eating. No sports. No games. No entertainment. Just two guys walking together. Sometimes in a neighborhood. Sometimes in the woods.

A few months back, I met with a friend from church who is a seasoned psychologist. I wanted to ask his advice in regards to one of my high school friends who was stuck in paralyzing anxiety. The first thing out of his mouth was, "Y'all should take walks together." He began to tell me about something called "bilateral stimulation." He said that walking is actually a medically proven therapy for anxiety in how it stimulates the brain.

Scholars estimate that Jesus walked an average of 15-25 miles/day during his three years of ministry. It seems like Jesus' primary method of discipleship was walking with people. Maybe that's why the mid-week hikes at Young Life camps feels so powerful. Maybe it's not so much the view, as it is the journey.

Wonder what would happen if, instead of a milkshake run, you invited one of your high school friends to take a walk tonight? 

Make sure to leave the phones behind. To walk slowly. To listen to your heart beat. To pay attention to the birds. To gratefully enjoy one another's presence. And to remember the One who walks along with you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WyldLife Wednesday: Maximizing Free Time at Camp

Written by Joe Nelson, WyldLife staff in Charlottesville, VA 

There are two main types of campers at WyldLife camp. The first group includes the golden retriever (or perhaps rabid wolf) type kids who take every opportunity to run wild and free and are just dying to be let off the leash at camp. We’ll call these independent campers. The second group is made up of the timid duckling campers who have no idea what to do and usually stick very close to their leaders. We’ll call these dependent campers.

Both types of campers present their own unique opportunities and challenges during free time at WyldLife camp. Below are some practical tips for maximizing your free time with kids at camp, acknowledging the differences in both dependent and independent campers.

Know your cabin
This is perhaps the most important part. Your leadership in maximizing free time with campers begins at home. Knowing the needs and interests of your whole group in general and each individual specifically will make a huge difference in your camp trip. If you don’t know some of your campers well before the trip, get to know them on the bus as best you can.

Have a plan
Having a plan is pivotal for maximizing free time. There are two specific situations that you always want to have a plan for.
  • Arriving at camp: The is the first moment you get to camp. After the welcome and checking into your cabins, you will likely have some free time. This is where you set the tone. Kids expectations and impressions of camp are being formed, so the moment is crucial. Have a plan to carry the energy from the welcome into this very first cabin-unifying event together. (Check out the examples below). This can be as simple as saying, “Hey, let’s all go throw on our swimsuits and head down to the pool together!”
  • After lunch: Free time almost always begins directly following lunch. Come up with something fun to do together with your cabin right at the beginning of free time, and spread the word during lunch (Again, see examples below)!

Some examples
  • Head to the pool
  • Specific camp activity (i.e. swing, zipline, sailboats, canoes/kayaks, etc.)
  • Set a “camp record” together (most half-court shots made, most milkshakes drank, etc.).
  • “Take over” an area of camp (the gaga pit, volleyball courts, craft shack, etc.)
  • Participate in a week-long or day long decathlon (sometimes the program team will have one made, but you can always make your own)
  • School/Area event (kickball game, mixers in the gym, world cup, etc.)

Cabin Unity
The program and activities at camp are set up to facilitate a leader-centered cabin unifying experience. Free time can add to that! You will create more memories with kids and set the stage for better cabin times when you are able to lead your cabin to do things as a group during free time.
  • Independent camper: This is a bit harder to do with the independent campers. As much as you can, bring them into the fold of cabin unity. However, do not force the issue to the point where you become a pest. If the independent kids want to run off and be first in line at the swing, let them.
  • Dependent camper: This is easy for them, they want to be part of it. Just make sure they don’t feel like an insignificant part of the group. Set them up to be the heroes of the group when and where you can!

Monday, June 26, 2017

How To Do a Color War

Written by Lindsey Horton, Young Life leader in Rome, GA. 

Are you looking for a fun event to build momentum in your YL area this summer?

Do you want a summer-time alternative to Clubble?

Already planning for a big kick-off for August or September?

Look no further than a Color War!

You might have seen this done at a summer camp or been a part of a Color Run. A Color War is essentially a color run without the running - well, not as much running.

With tons of colored powder, you’ll play several games with a giant color fight as your closer. Kids love it. It gets them messy, but not gross, and is easy to wash off. Additionally, it makes for some great social media posts for your high/middle schoolers. So, here’s how it works:

Pick a Place

It's best to have the event in an open field. We used a field behind a local church. The powder will wash away in the rain, so it doesn't leave a huge mess. Make sure there is a water hose nearby. Also, lay down towels so folks don't track in the powder if they need to go inside to use the bathroom.

Powder Prep

If you have a large budget, you can purchase already dyed Holi powders in bulk, it’s more expensive, but way less work. It's $120 for 25 lbs on Amazon. (You probably need at least 2 lbs/kid to make it fun, so 25 kids would be a minimum of 50lbs of powder. The more powder, the more fun.)

If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can make your own Color Powder using cornstarch and food coloring. Here’s how you do it. (Well, this is how WE did it - you can also find other ways to make it online.)

How To Make The Powder
  • Order 200lbs of cornstarch (We bought it from Webstaurant.com. It's $20 for a 50 lbs bag. We ordered 4 bags, so 200lbs for about 50 kids. Shipping was an extra $50, so it was $130 for all the cornstarch. Order it in advance and you can get cheaper shipping.)
  • Order 2 boxes of 8 oz. food coloring (red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, blue, etc.). It's $15 on Amazon
  • Gather a dozen of your middle and high school friends for a Powder Coloring Party. 
  • We mixed it all in large containers, but realized later that using smaller aluminum pans would have worked better as the powder needs to dry.
  • The exact water amount you need is just estimated - you basically add water until it’s a creamy consistency. You don’t want to add too much as it will take too long to dry, but you don’t want to add too little lest the colors won’t dye the starch. But it’s not an exact science. 
  • With 200lbs, we were able to create 6 different colors which we rationed out during the event.
  • Ideally, you would make the powder a week or two before the event so it has enough time to dry. The sun will dry them up pretty well, but careful about leaving them out overnight as the dew and condensation will affect the drying process. Keeping them out on something like a driveway or parking lot where it can stay dry overnight. Keep checking up on the powder to make sure it’s drying correctly. If you’re getting up to the date of your event and the powder’s still not dry, try separating the powder into smaller flat bins so they’ll dry faster.

Day-of Prep

For our games, we used the following supplies: 
  • 10 pool noodles
  • 600 water balloons (we bought the instant balloons on Amazon. They are so worth it and fill up and tie themselves in 30 seconds!)
  • 4 buckets for the balloons
  • 180 8 oz. plastic cups for the powder. 
You don’t have to use all of these since you can do whatever games you want, but this is what we did. Make sure you and your team know all of the games you’re going to be playing and can be able to explain them - the more people helping instruct/answer questions about the games the better.

The Event
  • Borrow a sound system to use outdoors. Good music makes the event a party.
  • Make sure to get a photographer/videographer to be there! It's easy to edit the video quickly with the Magisto App. 
  • Have a welcome table where kids can fill out club cards.
  • Get a couple colorful skit characters to host the event.
  • As kids arrive, you can have yard games for them to play. 4 Square, conrhole, frisbees, footballs, etc...
  • Next, we warmed up with some mixer games like baby/bunkbed/backpack, follow-the-winner rock/paper/scissors, freeze tag, etc...
  • For the games, we started with 4-team capture the flag - but 2-team also works. Only really use 4-team if you have a larger club since it can get a bit confusing. We played three rounds of capture the flag alternating with powder (which was placed in small plastic cups), water balloons, and powder again as ammo. We allowed the kids to fill up their cups with water from their water balloon buckets to use as ammo as well. Instead of being tagged by hand, you got tagged if you got hit with powder or water.
  • Next, we played sharks and minnows using the pool noodles - getting hit by a noodle instead of getting tagged. The different teams took turns being sharks in the middle. Whoever could run across without being hit by a shark would earn points for their team. You could also mix in powder with the noodles as a tagging method.
  • Finally, we had the color war. We handed all of the students 1 cup full of powder and a couple water balloons. The leaders then stood in a big circle on the outside with the extra bins of balloons and the extra powder so the students could reload during the war. We picked a hype song, and when the bass dropped the war began. 
  • There’s no real winner, just people throwing the water balloons and color powder around until you run out.
  • For us, it took about 35 minutes to actually run through the powder and water balloons. However, we were able to stretch the whole event out with the other games and with water breaks and all, it lasted for about an hour and a half. So you don’t have to play the other games, but if you do only color war then it ends up being a pretty short event. Having the other events really help hype up the color war too. However, don’t try to do too many exhausting games before the color war. Remember that the war is your main event and really why kids are there, so you don’t want to wear them out by making them run around too much before the main event.
  • Also, try to include a fun prize for the winning team after the events. If you have extra powder, use some of the volunteer leaders and have them create a tunnel for the winning team to run through. As the kids run through, you can pour the last few buckets of powder on them to make sure they are truly covered in powder. If you don’t have any powder left, ice pops work just as well to cool down after a fun, hot day. 


All in all, the Color War is a great kick-off event for your year of Young Life clubs. While it can take a lot of prep work, it’s definitely a lot of fun and your friends will love it! Make sure to upload the pics afterwards to a sharing site for them to download and be able to post on social media.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Brand New Content Song from Nashville Young Life Leaders

A couple Nashville Young Life leaders, Chris Chaput and Becky Kinder, have written a new content song for Young Life clubs. It's called "More to Me" and has gone really well during first session at Frontier. It would fit great with a need talk. Below you can download the MP3 and chords.

Download the MP3

Download PowerPoint slides

Download Keynote slides

Chords - Key of D - No Capo

Chords - Original Key of D

Lyrics