Youth Camp Memories

I now remember another thing that I am reminded of during rainy afternoons, especially in May. Youth camps.

Summers used to be filled with YFC activities. I remember back in summer before fourth year high school, the moment I got back from the International Leader’s Conference in Cebu (ah the memories!), we were already starting to plan for the youth camp for the summer. There were lots of meetings going on, with venues to visit and dates to pick and participants to recruit. I was hardly home during the week because of meetings and fellowships — sometimes it feels like my YFC friends and I live in a single class A motorhome as we were always together. Every. Single. Day.

Fun times.

And then comes the challenging days, the days nearing the camp. There’s finalizing the venues and the dates, making sure that the camp wouldn’t coincide with other camps by other chapters in the cluster because you were expected to support the other camps and how can you support if you’re having camps at the same time? There’s the challenge of finding qualified speakers and ideas of how to make the talks interesting with creatives. There’s asking help from the parental units to fund the food. There’s the feeling of despair as we convince people we know and random strangers to go to the camp. And finally, there’s the anticipation of preparing for the camp, both physically, emotionally and spiritually. There are people who would mysteriously get sick before the camp, people who would fight with each other before the camp and people who found it harder to pray as the camp date gets nearer (I’ve experienced all three).

Finally, camp! The team leaders and the camp servants (the heads of the camp) would arrive at the camp earlier to set things up. They’d pray with each other and pray over the place, prepare all the other things while waiting for the other people — most especially the participants — to arrive. Later in the afternoon, people would start arriving, and everything becomes a flurry of activities after that. The facilitators would be asked to accompany the participants and make them feel at home, the team leaders would welcome the speaker, the camp servants would make sure everything is in place. The participants would all start off being timid, sitting my themselves or with their friends with no idea what will be happening for the next three days.

And then. The first talk. The groupings. The first discussion. And then the team meeting after all the participants are all in bed. The next day, a long day. The service team are up early to meet, to prepare, to get ready. The day is filled with three talks, with discussion group after the first one, followed by a one on one session with the second one and a long afternoon break. The afternoon break can be filled with workshops if time permits, but if there’s none, it’s a time for everyone to bond and rest. And then dinner, and finally, the night.

The night where everything changes for both the service team and the participant. I believe no camp is ever the same, and the second night is always the one that tells you what is different from the other one. For the oldies, this night reaffirms everything that you have worked on, everything that you believed in and you see how God is truly victorious. For newbies, the second night is the night that really makes one feel what it is to be a YFC member. And finally, for the participant, the second night is the night where they are given a chance to get to know God better, the entire point of the weekend.

Sunday. The last day. Everyone suddenly seems closer to each other than before. Everyone’s tired, but everyone has some weird energy. Eventually, the participants, now YFC members, go home, carrying with them memories of a weekend that didn’t turn out to be waste after all, and new friends who they’d be seeing again quite soon. The service team go home, tired but spiritually high with the events of the weekend. And then it’s over.

I miss that. When college came, I wasn’t able to have summer camps, but instead, camps in the middle of the year. Which was okay, because I get to experience camps in the middle of the year. Tiring, yes, but very fulfilling.

What’s weird, though, and the thing that made me remember all of these is that it always seems to rain whenever we have a camp. Be it in the middle of the summer or in the middle of the year, it always rains during the second day. I remember being drenched in the rain as we prepared for the second night. We were all ready to get sick, but it was good times. :D

I miss that, very much. My goal is to visit one camp sometime soon, and I hope I still know some people when I visit that camp. :P The price you pay for being an oldie, heh.

So to all YFCs who are having camps right now, God bless you all! :) May you all make God smile with what you do. :)

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