This summer Youth Works has been filled with taking our South Side youth on day hikes, camp trips, and backpacking. As we looked towards the last stretch of summer, Ashley (fellow Youth Works staff) and I were hoping to take some of our friends in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade on a one night camping trip. It was going to be a quick transition from Young Life camp with the middle schoolers to camping with our young friends, and thankfully, Ashley checked the weather forecast the night prior to our departure. It was projected to rain, rain, rain, as well as thunder and lightning.
Now for some of our students, this was to be their first time camping and we thoughtfully considered that this could dampen their spirits (literally) towards the whole experience if the duration of the trip was spent wet and huddled in a tent. Quite frankly, we did not think that sounded like a whole lot of fun for our young friends or for us. Fortunately, our God is faithful and he brought my attention to an opportunity for a campout turned slumber party!
My sister lives here in town and her husband is rounding out a busy summer of travel with his construction job. Because of this, she is more than ready to have more people around the house. I brought up the idea of a basement slumber party to her and she kindly agreed. So instead of rolling out of Billings, Ashley and I loaded our vehicles with slumber party goodies and headed across town with five girls and one of our fantastic volunteers, Doni. We already knew that many of the students thoroughly enjoy cooking so we planned to have that be one of our main activities for the evening. The girls decided it would be a blast to make their own personal pizzas. Thus, our spinoff of the Great British Bakeoff, in which each gal had the opportunity to make their own pizzas, began. Our wonderful judges, (my mom and sister) had a thoughtful taste of each pizza. The girls loved it. They all received their prize of a freshly made Shirley Temple as their special drink with dinner. Afterwards, my sister, who also happens to be a former camp counselor, had us playing a fantastic variation of a tag/capture the flag game. The weather had cleared up nicely in town, so everyone was able to enjoy a nice walk to the park to play the game.
One highlight for all of us was watching the movie Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This is one of my favorite movies to watch with kids, as it has some sweet action scenes, but is also rich in gospel themes. One of the main characters, Edmund, betrays his family and thereby belongs to the forces of evil (the witch), yet the perfect King Aslan willingly chooses to die in his place. It was a powerful opportunity to discuss how this parallels the reality that we too are traitors because of our sin and Jesus, though He was perfect, died in our place. I am so thankful to have these Gospel conversations in everyday moments of life and count it a great blessing to spend time with our young friends! It was so neat to see how God can continue to make a way, in seemingly poor circumstances, for even the little things, like a slumber party.
Kaylee Bradford, Youth Works Director