Worth It

Posted on by Cara Walker SD

“Josh, how long would you have looked for us?”

The bell rang at 11:30 for everyone to head to their cabins. After about 10 minutes we learned that five campers were not in their cabins - four of them were from our San Diego group.

At first it’s simple: You look around camp hitting all the obvious places. But by midnight we knew they were nowhere inside camp. Eight of us leaders began searching trails, hiding places, and bushes inside and outside of camp. As time passed, the questions grew: How cold is it? Did you see if they were wearing sweatshirts? Could they be lost? Would they know what to do if they encountered a rattlesnake or bobcat?

After two hours of searching we found all five campers hiding just off the road into camp. We had been afraid for them - they were laughing. We knew they would wear their escapades as a badge of honor to anyone still awake in their cabins, so we made an immediate consequence. To the field to pick up broken water balloons by flashlight! At first they thought it was fun, but that didn’t last long.

“Josh, did you leave these out here on purpose knowing we might sneak out on the last night of camp?” I just chuckled.

After we were done, I took the three girls to the dining hall for a drink of water. That’s when the question came: “Josh, how long would you have looked for us?”

She said it almost laughing, still thinking their sneak out had been a game. I looked at them each and said, “I would have stayed out all night looking for you. I would never go to bed not knowing if you were safe. I care too much about you and you are too valuable. I don’t know what I would do if I went to bed and something happened to you. There’s snakes and bobcats out there and it’s dark. I would never have gone to bed before we found you.

Their faces fell.

It was in that moment I realized they didn’t know how much they mattered, to me, to God, or to anyone. They didn’t know they were worth it.

The youth we took to camp this year have had a parent in jail, and many still do. Life has not been easy for them, it’s been harder than you can imagine. They are hurting and hostile, harassed and helpless. Their coping mechanisms earn them labels as bad behaving teens: Reject before you can be rejected, fight before you're victimized again. 

We relentlessly run towards each one we can with the love and hope of Jesus Christ. That's why we’re starting Juvenile Justice Ministry Mentoring through a partnership with Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree and several local churches. During the coming weeks, we'll be matching many of the youth who came to camp with a Youth For Christ mentor. We can't wait to see and report how God grows this exciting new ministry!

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