What a year this has been for me. In September I joined the parish staff as the part-time middle school director and in December was invited to join full time to direct faith formation for children ages birth to 8th grade. I have loved getting to know the families and children in this church community. And middle schoolers have a special place in my heart. I have over a decade of experience working with this age group.
In working with middle schoolers I often get asked questions like, “How do I hear God’s voice?”, “How do I know if it’s God talking to me?” or “How long do I have to be quiet before God will speak to me?” The desire to hear from God is there but the process of getting quiet enough to listen is difficult. They don’t call it a spiritual discipline because it’s easy.
I love the story found in 1 Kings 19 about Elijah encountering God. The story begins with the prophet running away, hiding in a cave, ready to give up. God says to Elijah in the cave, “Go out and stand on the mountain. I want you to see me when I pass by.”
Elijah obeyed. Before he could step out of the cave, a thunderous wind hit the mountainside. But the Lord was not in the wind, or the violent earthquake that followed. He wasn’t in the fire that rained from heaven after that. Instead, it wasn’t until the silence that Elijah heard a whisper from God, giving him specific instructions on what to do next. So Elijah listened, he left his cave re-energized to follow God’s calling.
The key here is God whispered. To hear someone’s whisper, you need to be near him or her. Whispering doesn’t work very well if you’re speaking to someone who’s standing on the other side of the room. It also doesn’t work very well if there is too much noise around you drowning out the whisper.
We know that young people have a lot of noise in their life. With everything going on in daily life—school, sports, activities, friends, technology, sleep—it can be challenging to find time and make space for quiet.
Which is why, this summer, our parish is inviting students in grades 5-8 to a week of summer camp. A week of camp can provide that needed break from the busyness of life in order to create an environment where we can hear from God.
The world is full of distractions and busyness. Camp offers children an opportunity to do something different; to break from what’s normal. And with phones turned off, no TV to watch, no homework to stress over, no busy schedules to maintain, perhaps in the quiet that results, campers may hear from God, just like Elijah did, and return to their normal lives re-energized to follow God’s calling in their lives.
If you have a 5th-8th grader, you can find camp details on our website (Faith Formation/Middle School).
Director of Faith Formation: Birth to Grade 8
The picture below, created by a summer camp in McGregor, MN, highlights a few other reasons why camp is life-changing for young people: