Here's what I learned at Sports Camp 2012: 1. Eating small sack lunches for five consecutive days is better when you are not pregnant.
2. Sleeping on a partially deflated air mattress is better when you are not pregnant.
3. Running around a baseball field in the sun all day is better when you are not pregnant.
4. The ability to drink 3 cups of coffee a day helps. A lot.
5. There is an inverse relationship between pregnantness and the experience of sports camp. The less pregnant you are, the more enjoyable camp is.
6. There is also an inverse relationship between hours of teenage-girl-flirting and the experience of sports camp. The less hours of teenage girls flirting with teenage boys who live in other states, the more enjoyable sports camp is.
7. There is an inverse relationship between the number of rats in the field house and the experience of sports camp. The less rats sneak into the field house, the more enjoyable sports camp is. (This year there were zero rats. There was a frog, but the data shows no correlation between midnight frog sightings and the experience of sports camp.)
In all seriousness, this year was really, really special. There are three short lessons burning in my heart that I'm excited to share here. Here is the first; the rest will follow this week.
Kids are not the future. Children and teenagers are not the next generation. They are the current generation. They are not the future of our country; they comprise our country. Young people are not the future of the church; they are the present of the church.
I just spent a week watching a hundred high schoolers get up before sunrise, dress in gym clothes, and spend six hours sweating it out in the sun teaching kids to play basketball, baseball, soccer, football, track and field, gymnastics, softball, cheerleading, golf, and ultimate frisbee. I watched them lead small group lessons over their lunch breaks - learning names, telling stories, and sharing the good news of Jesus. I watched a hundred high school students care more about connecting with kids than being cool. They sang songs and performed all accompanying motions/dance moves; they cheered for kids enthusiastically. They exhibited responsibility, patience, kindness, and maturity.
They paid money for the opportunity to come and serve. What have you done this summer?
Teenagers and children are not the future of the church; they are the present of the church.
-Do not patronize them; expect great things from them. (Their lives don't start at 18-years-old.)
-Do not dismiss their preferences; listen to them. (At times it seems they speak a different language; it's worth learning.)
-Do not tolerate them until they "grow up;" expend yourself to engage them now. (You can learn from them, just like they can learn from you.)
-Do not babysit them; teach them. (Kids are young, not stupid.)
The children and teenagers in your community are not the future. They are the present. Don't lose them.