How was my summer you ask? No words seem to quite summarize the experience I had in West Virginia. Incredible. Challenging. Exhausting. They all fall short. No words really encapsulate all of the emotional and physical stress that nearly swallows a YouthWorks staff. My summer was good, in so many connotations of the word.
For those of you who are less familiar with YouthWorks, let me give you a synopsis of my job. I facilitated high school missions trips all summer long in southern West Virginia. I acted as a bridge between church groups and the community of Logan by leading and facilitating different service projects. Specifically, I lead an afternoon program called “Kids Club,” while also coordinating different partnerships with nursing homes. I delegated most elements of the day to high schoolers on mission to free myself to handle safety and discipline issues that are associated with inviting 35 at-risk kids (20 of whom were middle schoolers) into a local church. I fought the daily acts of disobedience, redirected fits of rage, and saw brokenness of a community overpower the innocence of childhood. But I also felt love and appreciation rooted in individual attention and acts of service on my part. I heard the gratefulness in teens voice for giving them a safe place to play basketball and hang out with their friends in an otherwise eventless town. And I built relationships that I never would have had should I let perception of these teens dominate their personality and what they had to offer.
Responsibilities with Kids Club dominated the afternoon, while in the evenings I worked more inclusively with my three teammates to facilitate evening activities and a program called Club–our interactive and focused element each night where we breakdown our theme, “Desirable.” This was all in addition to more minute responsibilities such as kitchen crew each day, clean-ups, and lights out. Four people made the whole show happen.
No, I did not work at a camp.
No, I did not go on a vacation.
No, I did not go on a trip.
I worked inclusively in a team of four to facilitate mission trip experiences to over 500 high school students through service projects such as Kids Club, Work Projects, and Nursing Home Service Partners in the community of Logan, WV. As a collective group and as individuals we built relationships within the community to empower and serve one another and to share Jesus Christ love in tangible ways.
And it was great.
And incredible. And challenging. and exhausting.