This is a guest post by Emmalee Fiser who served as a volunteer at Youthfront South this summer.
My Youthfront Experience
by Emmalee Fiser
Nevertheless, Youthfront really changed my views on a lot of things. I had no idea what I was doing as far as cabin leading, and feared needing to answer questions I did not know answers to myself. However while I was there I learned to have confidence in the Lord’s knowledge. I remember pouring my heart out to my cabin leader when I was a camper many years ago; the understanding and sincerity within her helped me through the rockiest few days of my life (literally). I so longed to be that for these girls! I had a cabin of 13 amazing young ladies, each which had such crazy stories of their own. I encouraged the girls at the beginning of the week to try and have a one on one with either me or my co-cabin leader; a great way to get deeper into conversations on personal issues, questions, etc. By Wednesday I had girls asking me for special time one after the other. Having them pour their hearts out to me was such a humbling experience. The amount of trust they had in me, their honesty and emotion, and the desire to just be HEARD was all unreal. I found more than anything that girls really need an ear to listen, such a simple thing to ask for, but such a hard thing to get. Parents’ lives are busy and often times they are ‘listening’ but not hearing. To sit and give them undivided, passionate attention was a new thing for them; something that made them open up even more. By the end of the week some of the girls expressed not wanting to go home. Some of them had never been away from home for any amount of time, and being away made them realize how much they hate being there. They saw a glimpse of happiness, openness, love, sincerity, and for some… hope. The memory of some hanging on to me as they were leaving Saturday, saying “I don’t want to go back, I can’t go back!” makes me want to spend every waking moment with these girls.
Something I love that I learned that week was not to shove God down their throats. What really needs to happen as a cabin leader is to get on their level. They need to see that we are silly, fun, outgoing, crazy girls– just as much as they are. By being on their level, laughing at things they still find funny, talking about the things they are interested in, and seeing God how they see God, it’s much easier to get to the heart of their issues. Through that, by midweek, they want to dig deeper. They are asking the questions, rather than you digging answers out of them. They see a difference in you, which makes them want that too. They have the desire for more, not the annoyance of too much. Some girls struggle with heart wrenching, unimaginable things, while others struggle with ordinary, eventually silly things. All things hurt the same to them, and it is important to see them at their individual level. I genuinely plan on keeping in touch with the precious hearts I grew so close to.
It was wonderful to be accepted by ‘Youthfronters.’ Instead of making me feel like an outsider, you brought me right in. From the moment I got there I felt accepted, desired to know, and special. There is a bond at that place, a family unlike any other. REAL friendships, REAL concerns, REAL questions, REAL! I so wish I had more opportunities to spend more time there this summer, but it makes me stoked for next summer to see if God plants me there or not…
I know one thing– come Saturday, I was not ready to leave.