As Sure As the Sun: YoungLives Camp

Regular readers around here know how involved I am with YoungLife, a non-denominational youth group. There are many branches of YoungLife. While I’m not regularly active on my college campus (with College Life), I traveled to Africa with YoungLife Expeditions this summer and also spent a week at a YoungLife camp with YoungLives, a part of YoungLife that works with young moms and their babies with a goal to celebrate life, spread love, and befriend with open arms. Just like Jesus would do.

For a week, I woke up and served mothers and their babies. And it was the best week I’ve ever had. I was in HEAVEN since I was assigned to the “bunny” nursery: 8 month olds. My FAVORITE age!

While the moms participated in their own camp, the volunteers held, snuggled, fed, changed, and played with over one HUNDRED babies from only 3 weeks old to almost in Kindergarten.

Each nursery had a leader (ours in the middle of the above pic) who made sure we cleaned and organized the nursery properly at the beginning and end of each day. While the moms ate breakfast each morning, we would dash to our nursery, wipe down toys, say a sweet prayer, and anxiously wait for the nuggets to start rollin’ in.

Whenever I call a baby a nugget, a guy friend will always look at me like I’m a lunatic but don’t babies just remind you of NUGGETS?!

I mean seriously. That. Is. A. Nugget. No questions asked.

I don’t know what it is about babies that makes my heart swell and my eyes get teary. I think that when I look at them, I just feel so at peace because their hearts are so pure, so innocent, and still so kind. You think about everything bad happening in our world and want to shield your little ones from it, because the people that are so angry and the people that do horrible things once started out as pure and as kind as each baby I held at camp. That’s a load to think about, I know, but nothing is more meaningful to me than playing a part in shaping a child’s life, no matter how old they are and no matter how much time I spend with them. . If you’re lucky enough to stick around for a while, you’ll see their heart expand and their personality emerge. You’ll pick up on their little quirks and make notes of what scares them, makes them sad, or makes them nervous.

Ugh. I know. I’ll be one of those moms.

I’m so thankful to have experienced YoungLives alongside my younger cousin, Haley. Growing up in a big family, one on one relationships are easily overlooked since you’re told to just group together and include everybody. While that mentality is a MUST when you’re one of 8 grandkids, I so appreciated my alone time with this girl! The drive up to camp is one that I’ll never ever forget. Since I’m away at college and Haley is in high school, we barely talk, so I didn’t even know what kind of music she listened to now! Laughing and singing and dancing are my favorite things to do, and doing all 3 with Haley made all of those things so so much better.

At the beginning of camp I saw a lot of moms worry about the care of their child. I get it. Some babies had never been away from family member, and definitely not for hours at a time in a strange place. As the week went on, I loved seeing moms become more comfortable around the childcare workers and at ease as they dropped their baby off.

These moms come from everywhere and all different backgrounds. Some in school, some not. Some supported by family, some not. Some with the baby’s father, some not. But from anywhere and everywhere, they come together to learn that they are VALUED, they are LOVED, they are TREASURED, and they are FORGIVEN, all by not only the YoungLife community but most importantly Christ. “You are loved more than you know, more than you could hope for after everything you’ve done.”

There’s also something to be said about working with a team. I’ll be the very first to say that being friends with other girls your age is NOT easy. At all. We are difficult, sensitive, and bossy. It comes with the life stage. But after spending only 5 days with the girls above (well, except for Haley who I’ve known my whole life) (and our nursery leader who isn’t pictured), I felt like I was part of such a great team.

And I think that’s what YoungLife is all about, no matter which branch you’re involved in. It’s all about finding your team, committing to one another, and serving whoever you can reach. It’s all about embodying characteristics of Christ alongside those you love and respect. It’s all about understanding your community, loving others no matter what, and listening to each and every story.

“There is good news. There’s a promise that no matter where you go, you will never be alone. In the dark, in the doubting, when you can’t feel anything, his love remains the same.”

I’m already excited for camp next year (right, Haley??) and I can tell you that this post only hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to explaining my love for this ministry.

A quick video of my time:

{📽} 👶🏼❤️ by @swraex

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  • Miss ALK

    My former college had a huge Young Life ministry- had I stayed there I probably would have gotten involved with it! Young Life sounds like it has amazing opportunities. Love the photos in this post- what a great experience for you 🙂

    xoxo A

  • Rachel Mariana Timmerman

    These photos absolutely melt my heart!!! Such an amazing experience you had. I can tell from your pictures that you loved it. And this is such a powerful message you included here! Thanks for sharing 🙂 This made my day!

  • mckenna bleu

    These photos are adorable! Looks like you really love and enjoy this and what an awesome experience it is!

  • They’re all so cute and I am glad you enjoyed your trip! It sounds like an amazing experience.

  • Anna Hubbard

    How sweet! It sounds like you had an amazing week, and to be honest, I’m kinda jealous! What an awesome ministry!
    -Anna |

  • All these photos are too cute! I know a lot of people who are into young life and I’ve only heard great things!

  • Aww glad you had a great time! Those babies are adorable.

    Alix |

  • How touching!!! I bet this is an incredible thing to do!! Thos kids are so stinking cute.

  • Sara Kate Steadman

    Oh. My. Goodness!! How fulfilling! It is so wonderful of you to do that. Loved hearing about this.

    Sara Kate Styling

  • Sydney Power

    How incredible!! I have hard a lot of young life and had friends who were involved!!

  • I LOVE this!!! The video just totally warmed my heart. These kiddos (and mom’s) were so lucky to have you!

  • Melinda House

    So thankful we have people like you in this world!

  • Cat

    It sounds like you had a wonderful, life-changing experience 🙂 Oh, and I call all little kids Nuggs!

  • Adriana

    These pictures are so cute! What an amazing experience!

  • Enfiniti Jones ⚓️

    I absolutely love this post. I love being involved in YoungLIfe and hopefully soon I can start volunteering! Your blog is amazing!