This week (well, 9 days to be exact), Cross Bar X held its high school girls’ Red Hawk camp. My cabin consisted of 5 girls aged 14-15 from the Durango area and Phoenix, AZ. I was incredibly nervous going into the week because I had never worked with high schoolers before, and I felt like I would be unable to say anything of value to these girls who were much closer to my age than the 8 year olds I had been working with. I prayed a lot before the girls came for their hearts as well as for my own ability to leave go of anything I was trying to do for myself so that God could work through such an ill-equipped vessel as myself. And work He did, in my cabin, and in the lives of other girls at camp.
Right away, we could tell that it would be a tough camp. Most of the girls were in their beginning years of high school, and many came from very difficult backgrounds, which sometimes made respect an issue. It was also very apparent that image was important to many of these girls. Their actions, I noticed, were largely dictated by the ways others would perceive them. I noticed that on the first day of camp, the girls did not participate in worship because a particular camper was pointing out and making fun of those who did start to sing. There were a lot of nasty comments thrown around, but so many times the girls who had been hurt went crawling back to the friends who treated them badly because it was better to be “in” than “out.” However, I started to see a shift in some of the girls in the middle of the week when we took them on a three-day backpacking trip in the middle of the woods to learn how to live together with the very bare minimum of equipment among the beauty of God’s creation. Once they were taken even further out of their element to a place without mirrors or makeup, I found that they were more willing to speak honestly with one another and with myself and the other counselors. We started to have real conversations about life and sadness and anger. While it was a tough trip, I remember laying in my tent on the last night of our excursion and thinking about just how sad I would be to see these girls go.
I think my biggest lesson of this camp came towards the end of the week. We were given the opportunity to share our testimonies with the girls to connect with them better and encourage them to share their own stories. As I sat down to jot down some notes that I thought would be helpful in sharing with high school-aged girls, I realized that I was so much like them. I thought about identity and the desire for approval from others, and I was reminded of the many times where I had allowed other people to dictate my value and where I had acted out of the desire to be viewed a certain way by certain people. The amazing part was that I was able to see it as something in the past. While I think that I have struggled with seeing myself as the world sees me and not through the eyes of God for years and years, this summer has been a lesson in humility and in clarity. I have come to a place where I can say now that I don’t care what people think of me, good or bad, and that is so incredibly freeing. Psalm 73:25-26 says:
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And besides you, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.In reading that, I was convicted to think not only about the place that my value is found but also the places I give value. I am praying that, even in my sinfulness, the desires of my heart would match those of God’s own heart. I am realizing that God has called me to be me, but more importantly, He has called me to be His. Nothing else matters.
Continued growth for Red Hawk girls as they return home
Wisdom and strength for guy counselors for high school boys' camp
Ability to serve and encourage effectively on support staff