TAKING THE LEAP, IN HIGH ROPES AND LIFE

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This past weekend at camp we watched one of our campers overcome a HUGE fear of heights.

It was the encouragement of her friends and the volunteer counselors cheering her on that empowered her to get back on the ropes course, and hop across logs that swung on ropes in mid-air. Tears were brought to her eyes as she looked back and saw what she just conquered.

Tears were brought to her eyes as she looked back and saw what she just conquered.

It was a moving moment to experience; throughout the rest of camp I watched this camper do more and more bold things. She eventually was the first to speak in group discussions and even prayed out loud-something that took great courage for her in particular.

It is hard to describe the amount of growth seen in the campers in such a short amount of time. In fact, it seems near impossible. God works in miraculous ways that time does not stand against.

I watched these unfold right before my eyes and still can’t fathom it! Even the small accomplishments made huge impacts. One camper only made it to the harness-he couldn’t jump or go on the high ropes course-he wasn’t ready. But for him to take the step to at least attempt, was a HUGE decision for him. His counselors’ affirmations for how brave that was forever impacted his life.

I am beyond moved by these kids. It was such a privilege to be a part of witnessing how God is moving and using Teen Leadership Camp to give them something to bring home into their daily lives to see they can do it. To learn from their ability and bravery to accomplish and never give up, even among fear, impacted me deeply, and challenged me to see how I can be braver in my daily life and step into what God is asking of me, even if it seems scary. It was such a privilege to be a witness and even a part of this process.

Teen Leadership Camp is impacting more and more youths’ lives every year-see how you can play a part in making a difference here.  

WHAT A TRIP TO TRADER JOE’S TAUGHT ME ABOUT BEING A BETTER MENTOR

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I am always a little nervous every other Sunday leading up to my scheduled meets with Mary. Will I make a difference today? Will it even matter if I show up? What, if anything, can I really teach her about life?

As I drive down the freeway, I ask God to guide me and help me to listen more than talk; the Sundays I get to meet with Mary, the sun is always shining-it’s like God’s way of showing me early on that he hears my ask for help.

Last week I especially enjoyed our time together during our regular excursion to Trader Joe’s. Mary’s roommate, Marsha joined us this time because they were “really low on food!” Marsha had moved in during the summer, and now the two roommates seemed much more comfortable with each other.

I was amused with the two sisters (who are both the same ages as my daughters), discussing what they were going to eat for dinner – it was going to be “Mac ‘n cheese…from scratch!“…meaning the box. Both totally agreed also on making banana bread again, so I grabbed 2 bananas at 19 cents each. Down in the pasta aisle, I convince them to buy the pound of rotini for a dollar instead of the mac and cheese box.

“Homemade macaroni and cheese, so easy!” I say. “Half stick of butter, lots of grated cheddar cheese, and whole milk!” The girls seemed excited.

On the way back to their apartment, I was surprised when Marlene asked me if I would help them research and shop for a used car at Carmax. They had a budget, and Mary knew what colors she did not want…no white and no red.

I was caught off guard because I think it was the first time Marlene addressed me by name, thoughtfully asking, “Josie, can you help us figure out what type of car to buy?” It wasn’t just a question or a request. What I heard was an invitation into her life. I felt permission to give her my advice. She wanted and trusted my advice. It was so cool, and so humbling.

It wasn’t just a question or a request. What I heard was an invitation into her life.

Mentoring is not just about making budget goals and a market list. And, It’s not always about achieving something. It’s about caring, and sharing bits of yourself-and letting the relationship grow on its own.

People don’t care what you know until they know that you care!

For more information on giving, and learning how you can invest in a youth’s future, click here.

MY FIRST (AND DEFINITELY NOT LAST) CAMP EXPERIENCE

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It was my first time ever going to any sort of camp. I was nervous, unsure-I actually tried to cancel, but it was too late. I go through with it. 

And I CAN’T WAIT till next year! I wish I had come sooner, though, to be honest, I didn’t feel that way before I left.

Friday morning I got dropped off at the church, this is where the bus picked us up. I felt really shy because I didn’t know anyone. But, then I got really excited because all the other kids were laughing and telling me about all the fun things there are to do at camp-they had been before. Their stories were true; camp did not disappoint!

I had so many favorite parts about camp, I can’t just pick out one. We went swimming, the ropes course, zip-line, the big swing, the lake, paddle boarding and blob! Even the food was awesome! I loved the s’more campfire! The best part was hanging out with friends and paying around on the field.

I felt really shy because I didn’t know anyone. But, then I got really excited because all the other kids were laughing and telling me about all the fun things there are to do at camp-they had been before. Their stories were true; camp did not disappoint!

The theme this year at camp was “never give up” and I felt like I really took away a lot from it. I struggle a lot in life, but God has always been there for me-camp reminded me of that. It is hard because I do give up sometimes, but camp gave me a lot of encouragement to try harder and keep going.

I struggle a lot in life, but God has always been there for me…

I can’t wait for next year; I want every foster youth to experience what I got the experience.

There are lots of stories like these: lives changed through our annual summer camp, mentorships, and the truth of God’s love on display. To partner with TLF’s efforts to keep sending youth to camp to experience this once in a life time event, click here. 

Camp Returner

I was so ecstatic to return to camp this year. I was even more excited to meet new people because of how much fun I had last year. I felt really confident this year too, since last summer I have had my mentor by my side.

My favorite part of camp  was the night hike and the ropes course “of course”. My friend also got to do some of his magic tricks, and that was really cool. I also really liked the worship and prayer, I got to experience a lot more of that this year and got more involved. My mentor has been taking me to church and I really like it.

I am definitely going to keep coming back every year I can and hopefully continue on to becoming a Jr. counselor when I am 18. If there is one think I would tell someone who hasn’t been it is to GO, because it change their life. It has mine.