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Another Great Week of Camp

Camp pic 2I spent last week at Butler Springs Christian Camp leading the Basketball 2 week (for students going into 5-8 grades). This was my 10th summer leading this particular week. Some of the things have changed – like those who serve on faculty and of course those who attend.  The facilities and grounds continue to be upgraded, but there are a number of things that stay the same.

One of the highlights of the week was the number of students who responded to the invitation to become a follower of Jesus. Since we spend about 5 days together, we offer a formal invitation at the end of the week and encourage the students to be in conversations with their family leaders about what it means to follow Jesus.  I knew a handful of our campers were doing that, but didn’t expect 16 students to come forward.  We had 11 baptisms take place before we left the camp and several were planning to be baptized at home churches.

One of our high school students baptized a girl from her camp family.  One grandpa who served during the week had the privilege of baptizing his granddaughter.  It was a great way to end the week.

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Another highlight was the faculty with which I served.  Several of my faculty members have been doing camp as long (or longer) than I have.  Many of us have served multiple summers together and they are such a benefit to the week.  One of the couples who serve with me didn’t have kids when we first worked together.  Now they have four kids and their two older boys were part of the week.  Some of the faculty are teens who used to be campers a few years ago and have now come back to serve.  I’m so grateful for the time and energy they give to the students throughout the week.

I think this year more than ever the hearts of our adults were touched by the campers we got to know.  There were a few students who came from some difficult backgrounds.  While we didn’t know a lot about what home was like, we saw enough to know that these students needed love, compassion and attention paid to them.  I’m so grateful for the adults who came alongside those students, encouraged them, became a friend to them and showed them the love of Jesus.  Even when our patience was tested, our faculty continued to lovingly serve.

I know that God was working before our week of camp ever started and He is working now.  He simply gives us the opportunity to come alongside what He is doing and for five days interact with the campers He brings.  I’m thankful for that chance.

 

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Face Time Over Screen Time

Technology is quite simply a part of our culture. I love the phrase “digital natives” because it describes our students so well. My niece, who is just 5 years old, is quite adept at operating her mom’s iPad. I remember sitting at a basketball game a season ago and had twin two-year old girls sitting on my lap. They were scrolling through my iPhone trying find the game apps. If they opened an app they didn’t like, they knew how to close it out. They are simply natives to technology. They have grown up with it.

What is interesting then in the results of a survey I read on the Simply Youth Ministry Blog. They referenced research done by Common Sense Media that asked 1,000 13 to 17 year olds how they are communicating today. 90% have used social media. 68% text and 41% consider themselves addicted to their phones.

That makes this infographic so interesting. A higher percentage prefer Face Time over Screen Time.

Face Time to Screen Time

It’s a good reminder that we all want to connect with others and relationships are important. Sometimes the screen time can open the door to meaningful face time conversations.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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InstaScavenger Hunt @DownloadYM

This weekend our IMPACT students participated in an InstaScavenger Hunt.  Using smartphones to capture various pictures and videos, they uploaded them to Instagram with the hashtag #impactinsta.  While the concept of the scavenger hunt has been around for years, we had a great time going around town taking pictures under bank signs, of the entire group in a bathroom stall and a video of the chicken dance under the KFC sign.

A few of the pictures are below.  You can search #impactinsta on Instagram to all of them.

I modified a list for our hunt from Download Youth Ministry.  It was a great resource to use and had some fun ideas. (Thanks DYM!)

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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Images over Words

snapchatSeveral weeks ago I posted about the growth of Instagram and how it surpassed Twitter in number of users. It appears that people prefer images over words.

After meeting with a group of junior high students, Tim Elmore found that trend is showing up in how teens communicate with each other. Text messaging is being replaced by apps that allow teens to share images.

Here’s a small portion of what he posted on May 6th about the growth of images over words.

Snapchat — an app that allows users to send photos to one another that disappear after a few seconds—has taken over many teen’s portable devices. So has Instagram. It may well be the future of phone interaction. Just like Facebook, once parents and teachers began to figure out how to use text messaging, students were bound to find new ways to communicate.

It wasn’t that long ago I reported to readers that teens today send about 3,000 texts a month, or about a hundred a day. That’s changing now. And not just for teens but for all ages. As a whole, people are texting less now than we used to. According to Chetan Sharma Consulting, “The average U.S. cell phone user sends about 628 text messages per quarter, down 8 percent from a year ago.”

Technology and communication are ever-changing. We’ve gone from land line to cell phone to email to MySpace to Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat and other forms of staying connected. For those who work with students, it’s interesting to see where the trends go.

What do you see students using to communicate with each other?

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Importance of Mentors

Apple_Podcast_logo-642x642This weekend served as a good reminder to me of the value of mentors in the lives of students. For the past 8+ years, we have made small groups a primary part of our student ministry. We connect students with adults who will meet with them on a regular basis to build relationships, to study God’s Word and to create a safe place to share both the trials and triumphs in life. This weekend, we experienced a couple of “wins” that reinforced the value of that.

I am learning the importance of celebrating the wins. We tend to focus on what’s not right or what didn’t work and there is value in pointing out when good things happen. Also, with the nature of small groups and student ministry in general, you don’t normally see fruit or results until later down the road.

This weekend one of our junior high boys small groups made an effort to invite and include another guy in their group. They saw the guy at church, invited him to come to small group, made sure they knew where he needed to meet and he showed up! While they were encouraged by their small group leader, the students made the invitation.

Another of our groups – a 6th grade boys group – just completed a challenge put forth by their leaders. Each boy was given a certain amount of money to invest into a kingdom project. Each boy was given the freedom to choose where to use that money. I just received a report from the leaders about what each boy did. That’s a win!

Then, this morning, on my way into the office, I was listening to the Catalyst Podcast. One of the interviews was with Josh Shipp, who leads a mentoring ministry.

He said the biggest problem our students face today is a lack of Christian, caring adults involved in their lives. He then shared these two statistics. Students who have a caring adult who is not mom or dad in their lives are 50% more likely to succeed and 50% more likely to stay away from things that are destructive. What he shared just continued to point to the importance of involving caring, Christian adults into the lives of our students.

The entire interview is a good as Josh shares his story of how mentors in his life made a huge impact on him. (The Mandisa interview which preceded his is good, too.). Check it out on the Catalyst website.

I’m so grateful for the adult leaders who have been (and still are) are a part of my own children’s lives and for the small group leaders that lead in our ministry. They are making a difference.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Progressive Dinner #impacteatandgo

Group SelfieThis weekend we took our IMPACT students on a Progressive Dinner. The idea of a progressive dinner is definitely not new, but it creates a good opportunity for students and adults to spend time together around a meal.

We had three stops for our evening (salad, main course, dessert) and our hosts were awesome. The weather was nice enough that after finishing a course, we could go outside.

To add another element to the evening, we had various photo challenges at each home. We encouraged students with smart phones and Instagram accounts to take different pictures and post them on IG with the hashtag #impacteatandgo. It made it easy to search all the pictures that our students took.

While getting ready for the evening, I read about a website – ink361.com – which allows you to connect to your Instagram account. Then, you can search for specific users or hashtags. I plugged in our hashtag on that site and it pulled up all the photos we took.

It was a fun evening with a good balance of structure and free time. We had good food, took some fun pics and enjoyed hanging out together.

Here are just a couple examples of the pics our group posted:

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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“affluenza”

affluenzaI’ve posted in the past about information shared through Tim Elmore’s Growing Leaders blog. Today, I learned a new word - affluenza.

I guess it has been around for a while (since the 1990’s) and refers to a condition in which children — generally from rich families — have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior, and sometimes dabble in drugs and alcohol. Elmore references a court case where affluenza was used as a defense by a man who hit and killed four people with his truck.

I have copied Elmore’s blog below regarding this “condition.” As I read his thoughts, it kind of hit me from two sides. First, as a parent, am I or have I been guilty of contributing to this “condition” in my own kids? Also, as one who works with students on a regular basis, where do I see this showing up? Interesting to think through.

You can read Elmore’s thought on his Growing Leaders blog and offer your comments as well.

Some journalists are using a term when speaking about parents and the problems they have raising their kids today. It’s called “affluenza.” At the court hearing for a tragic auto accident in Texas, where teenager Eric Couch hit and killed four people with his truck, the defense attorneys cited “affluenza” (when one is raised with wealth and never given limits) as the cause for his crime. He’s been sentenced to ten years of probation. The term “affluenza” was popularized in the late 1990s by Jessie O’Neill, in her book “The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence.” It has since been used to describe a condition in which children—generally from rich families— have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior, and sometimes dabble in drugs and alcohol.

Like a disease, affluence, or living as if you have it, can harm a child as they’re growing up. Today, moms are sending birthday invitations out, with a gift registry inside the card, letting guests know where and what gifts to buy their child. Many parents assume they are “poor parents” if they don’t provide their children everything they want.

Obviously, when the bar is set this high, a child’s sense of entitlement increases. They start believing they deserve all the latest gadgets, tablets, smart phones, name brand clothes, expensive tutors and coaches, and costly vacations that are always better than last year’s.

What we’re finding is—this “afflluenza” begins translating into the notion that students deserve good grades just because they showed up, especially if mom and dad paid for this expensive school. Some college students have even sued their alma mater for not guaranteeing a job when they graduated.

I do not claim to be a parenting expert. I develop students and student leaders. But allow me to comment and offer some common sense.

We live in a day of “encore problems.” We expose our kids to so much so early in their life that it becomes difficult to engage them as they move into adolescence. They have been on trips and vacations; they’ve attended amazing ballgames, and they own incredible technology by middle school. What more is there to experience when they grow up? The problem is, the “more” they want is probably unhealthy.

Parents and teachers must navigate this “affluenza.” We must figure out how to pace our students, exposing them to measured amounts of possessions, and appropriate experiences as they mature. Often, they get exposed to things today before they’re emotionally ready for them. Most elementary kids have watched a sex scene on TV, on a computer, or at the movies. Most have watched violent acts and murders, and seen people do illegal drugs. It’s tantalizing.

What To Do

In his latest book, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell discusses how difficult it is to lead kids today, when there is too little or too much money. Obviously, a family living below the poverty line finds it difficult to raise kids well, because their focus is mere survival. They are living paycheck to paycheck. On the other hand, upper middle class and wealthy families find parenting hard because they cannot honestly say to their children who beg them for a new iPhone: “We can’t afford that.” That moment requires an emotional conversation, where the parent explains to the child why it’s helpful to learn to delay gratification.

Yeah. Good luck with that conversation.

The research tells us that an income of about $70,000 is the median income, to make parenting neither too hard because of poverty or too hard due to wealth. Outside of those lines, we will have to learn to pace our kids. This means our job may change:

Pace the sequence of possessions and experiences, allowing for a bigger and better one, as they mature. For instance, you might plan a trip across the state for them in elementary school, a trip across the U.S. when they’re in middle school, and a trip overseas when they’re in high school.

Don’t fall into the trap of comparisons. Other parents may win brownie points with their kids because they give them too much, too soon. Those kids are “wowed” in the moment, but are over-exposed and may have difficulty managing expectations as young adults. Do what’s right, not what’s popular.

Always have a reason for every “gift” (possession, experience, trip, etc.) that you give your child. Have a plan, to progress into bigger and better “gifts” in the future. I even explained my plan to my kids by the time they reached fifth grade. They realized there was a method to my madness and they “got it.”
Prepare to have meaningful conversations with your young people. Get ready for emotional exchanges as they learn to wait, to listen, to handle envy of their friends, and to save up their own money, perhaps, before getting what they want. This is what maturity is all about.

Just remember, leading students is a marathon not a sprint. In fact, it’s a pace, not a race. Pace yourself. Pace your kids.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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