"The kids seem to ‘get it’ in ways that we, as adults, have forgotten," says Jay Knot, Director of Youth Ministries from First UMC . “I had the pleasure of spending the weekend of Mid-Winter Camp of The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church with middle school students from across the state – something I really enjoy, any chance that I get.”
One weekend of Mid-winter camp was held at Lakeview with Jamison Doehring as speaker and Broken & Perfect providing worship music for high schoolers, and Doug Wintermute speaking and Lance Scott leading worship for junior high students. At Forest Glen, high schoolers enjoyed the teaching of Adam Mustoe and music of Chris Jones, and middle schoolers heard Stephen Mackey and the music of Austin Kincannon.
A real-life reminder
”As usual,” Jay shares, “there is always one kid that loses their spending money that mom and dad have sent with them. It never fails, and typically more than one experience this rite of passage. On Saturday at Lakeview, one Jr. High camper reported that she had lost her $10.”
During one of the worship sessions, Rev. Doug Wintermute from FUMC DeKalb, put out the call to help this young lady out. Recalls Jay, “It was a ‘love offering,’ as those of us born and raised in the south refer to that act. He started out by saying how we should lift each other up in times of need, and struggle. Without identifying the student, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the first dollar donation. What happened next was touching.”
Every student and adult in the room stood up, reached in his or her pocket, and gave up something. “Not only was the camper’s cash fund restored, but there was a surplus that remained,” adds Jay, “which made for a great life lesson reminding all that, when we rely and trust on God to provide for us, there is often a surplus.”
The rest of the story
“Now the amazing part to me about all of this is not the fact that the young lady’s money was restored, not that there was a surplus, but rather the fact that everybody donated because the economic backgrounds of several of her fellow campers are pretty bleak. If their local youth directors didn’t provide scholarships out of their youth budget, the $105 camp fee likely would put many families short in another area. Thankfully, many families do decide to send their children to join fellow followers, fellow strugglers, and juggle their finances to make that opportunity for growth in Christ. “
The scenario reminded Jay of the story of the widow at the Temple, as told in Mark 12:41-44, where the rich were flaunting their money, and the poor widow woman had only two copper coins to offer. Christ’s observance of that event was: ““I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury. All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.”
Notes Jay, “This was the case for several of the students in camp this weekend. They gave to another out of compassion, out of what they had, not out of what they had extra. They gave from their hearts, not from their wallets. The surplus was given to me, and I passed the money on to Rev. Carmen Rickle who was directing the camp for the weekend. She, Dave Gray, Jay Neff, Rev. Thera Freeman, and I discussed what should be done with the surplus funds (almost $100) and the group decided to donate it to a Lakeview fund that would be available the next time a loss happened and you KNOW that it will happen again. “
Jay was touched by the generosity of those young adults who gave, without thought, because a need was identified, and they wanted to help out another.
Training young leaders
He adds, “More and more often, we youth directors observe these young people doing what is right. They are connecting with each other in ways that older generations simply have not or did not. THEY are starting to get it right. It is often us adults that hold them back. We worry about them getting in over their head...or do we worry about them showing us where we have failed to portray the essence of Christ? I think that may be the case for many of us, myself included.”
Up close with Forest Glen high school campers
When youth leaders and youth participants were asked their impressions about this year’s Mid-Winter Camp for middle and high school students at Forest Glen, here’s what they had to say:
· The word of God shined through.
· God gave us great weather and the worship and fellowship was wonderful.
· My students were very engaged with the topic of the need to be more merciful and less judgmental -- and what God has for them, putting Micah 6:8 in their hearts, and acted on it even when driving home.
· The theme and curriculum for small groups was awesome; the participation in small groups had the youth opening up and helping each other even though they had just met.
· I absolutely loved the speaker.
· I heard students commenting that they felt God was talking to them, and the event bonded people who don’t normally hang out together.
Do you dare?
Jay issues this heart-felt challenge to adults across the conference. “If any of you are worried about the next generation of leaders that lay in waiting for our not so distant future, I encourage you to become an ACTIVE volunteer in your local youth groups. Perhaps you will see, just as your local youth director does, just how awesome our next generation is. If what we are seeing in our youth groups is in any way an indication of the future of our world, I am jubilantly optimistic. Even with their stinky feet, messy rooms, hormonal mood swings and all. Go and become a part. I DARE YOU!!”