Thursday, November 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: In the Beginning

Over the course of my 28 years in youth ministry I was blessed to work with many amazing teenagers and adults who were a part of a wide variety of exciting student ministries. Choosing "the best this" or "my favorite that" has been part of this blog since its inception, and those are very subjective awards that change in my mind from day-to-day. But labeling the group that started me down the road to my calling as a youth pastor is much easier and much more concrete. It was the summer of 1978 (I was 18), my first official year on staff at Quaker Lake Camp. The second week of camp was a Junior High Camp, and for 6 amazing days the guys in my cabin and the girls they were "in love" with became my family. We laughed, we cried, we got in trouble and we loved each other & Jesus. They were, in every way that really matters, my first youth group. The fact that this picture (taken with a classic Polaroid camera) still exists is a testament to what they meant to me:

I confess that I do not remember every name anymore. But many of them I will never forget. The bonds between us grew even stronger a few weeks after this picture was taken when one of them (Robin Davis) was killed in a car wreck and we all came together to grieve and remember her sweet life. The relationships we formed that summer lasted many years, and some of them are still my friends. For a variety of reasons, several of them have been on my mind and in my prayers in recent weeks. And today seemed like a really good day to tell them all how much they still mean to me.

It's been over 36 years since that week of camp. And despite all that has transpired in the years that followed, I still maintain that stealing the girl's suitcases from their cabin and hiding them in the cornfield was a really, really funny prank. No matter how mad they got...

Because of Jesus,

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