Many families say that Youth Camp is one of the highlights of the year for them and their kids. This year, Josh and Jess Crisp attended with their two kids Olivia and Garret. In addition to both coming as parents with a heart to care for their children, Josh served as the worship leader and Jess served on the administrative team. Camper of three years, Olivia, and camper of two years, Garret, were able to share their experiences along with their parents. The theme this year was Grow, and it seemed that a lot of growing did indeed happen. “I learned how to seek out God, to want to know Him,” says Olivia. “Youth Camp helps me to open up spiritually to my parents in a way that I usually don’t.” Garret profoundly adds, “I learned that if you mess with sin, you’ll end up losing more than just your life.” Meanwhile, parents Josh and Jess came away with lessons of their own. “More than anything I was reminded that God is constantly doing a work in our children (and us) that we cannot control or anticipate. The Holy Spirit has a strong presence in our children, and in this spiritual atmosphere they experience Him greatly,” says Jess. Josh continued by saying, “I was just aware of the fact that God uses us even in the midst of our shortcomings and weaknesses. I was struggling walking into Youth Camp; I was questioning if I should even be leading, and in the midst of that He works through you and uses your weakness to minister to others as well."
Times of worship through singing are always an important part of Youth Camp, as Garret admittedly says, “I
was expecting great worship.” Josh says he was blessed “watching the youth worship in a way that most don't get to see. They are free to worship whole-heartedly without feeling like they have to worry about what the adults are thinking. I wish they would show us more often what it means to worship.” Jess sums it all up by saying, “the worship is always a highlight and such a blessing to see teens/young adults worshiping God in such an uninhibited way.” If it’s not clear by now, Youth Camp is not just an ordinary family get-away, but a time to intentionally invest in your children. “It's a good time to get away and have intense one-on-one time with kids that for the most part have to share your attention. It has been good to see and get to know each child away from family dynamics. And also to hear what God is teaching them in that time and being able to have those conversations even after camp is over,” says Josh. Not only do parents have opportunities to care for their children, but the youth get to care for one another too. “On the second night, I went up to the altar and a ton of friends came up and prayed for me,” says Garret. Looking ahead to next year, Jess says, “I'm looking forward to our third child having her first youth camp experience! There's just nothing like them experiencing it for the first time.” Josh echoed by saying, “Like Jess said, we have our third kid coming, and I'm looking forward to what her experience will be like, but also to see how God will grow [Olivia and Garret] over the next year.” And to conclude with words that every parent longs to hear, Olivia says of Youth Camp, "I love growing and deepening my relationship with my friends and family and God."