On the way up to the weekend for teen leadership camp I was thinking – I am over 6 decades older than John… will I make a difference?  John had not participated in anything and the afternoon was almost over. There he lay, on the edge of the grass with his baseball cap covering his face. I went over, knelt beside him and had my face inches from his.

It did not take long for him to realize someone was there.

I asked, “Are you OK?


“Is anything wrong?”


“I like the color of your hair, a mixture of brown and black.”

We sat side by side facing each other and I discovered he composed poetry. I told him I was impressed by his ability and I encouraged him to write a couple of poems while at camp this weekend.  He went on to let me know his ball cap was special because his mother gave it to him.   He last saw his mother 2 months ago.

I sat….pondering how to reach him.

Because he said he liked intellectual things I decided to give him 2 questions to think about over the weekend.

#1 what am I going to do with the rest of my life?

#2 what makes for a successful life? NOT “what makes for success in life?’

Saturday morning I gave him another thought.

#3 the way you play the game in camp is exactly the way you play the game of life. He agreed and said he isolates and finds peace in marijuana.

We found ourselves together on the field where he asked, “Where is God?” “I pray and see no answer.” We sat on the stone wall for about 20-30 minutes discussing this.

How do you answer this question of a 15 year old boy who has been bounced around and smokes marijuana?  As we talked we also admired the beauty of creation, especially the bright stars scattered across expanse of the sky.  Sunday morning we had to clear out of the cabins. I was the last to leave and found a piece of paper on the floor with a poem

Thy light that shines throughout the starry night – That gives us hope and shines our doubts away

That shines like a beacon and tells the world it’ll be OK

Never at peace ;full of uncertainty –  Wanting to hope; in the Almighty

A response

He’s been searching for me; all this time – And I never realized it

He’s here – He’s there- He’s where I need Him- He’s when I need Him

It’s my choice; My choice to join Him; To become a follower; not just a fan; For this I was created

To praise His Holy name;  To praise Him;  Just like the stars in the sky

As the bus was ready to leave, I gave him my baseball cap to add to his collection. To my surprise he took off the cap he had been wearing all weekend, the one given to him by his mother, and put on my beat up old cap.  He said the camp was much better than he had expected and he looks forward to returning next year.

Lisa Castetter | Founder, Executive Director