Last night, 4 full passenger vans, towing two trailers, and 44 (very stinky) jr. high youth and adult leaders, pulled back into the Trinity parking lot after a 9-day adventure trip to Colorado. For years, I have led these kind of trip experiences, so I know how amazing and powerful they can be.
Last night, however, I was on the “receiving end” of the trip. I was one of the parents who got to welcome home their young person. Sam, our “pre-8th grader,” was a member of the Colorado group.
Last night, and this morning, Sam has been non-stop talking. Now this isn’t all that unusual, but in this case, he was telling us stories from the trip. One after the other…continuously…there aren’t even many opportunities for us to jump in and ask questions.
His energy and excitement about what he experienced has filled his heart and fed his spirit. This is what these kind of experiences do:
- They create a new sense of community. The group Sam was a part of bonded in a way that can only happen when a group travels and works together.
- They open one’s eyes to what is new and what is possible. Rock climbing…rappelling…rafting…these were all amazing experiences that were not only fun, but opened the eyes of our kids about all of the possibilities that God created for them.
- They create amazing experiences with adult mentors. This trip had amazing adults. (All our trips do!) Thanks to all who went. In this case, special thanks to Brian Erola, (Sam’s small group leader), Chris Swanson, our jr. high youth minister, and Pastor Dean for providing great leadership.
- Finally, and most importantly, this trip helped our group to see God in new ways. God is active in the world, and a faith practice for us is to be able to see God at work. Listening to Sam talk, it is clear that God’s Holy Spirit was at work, and our group experienced God in some pretty new, powerful and dynamic ways.
“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.”
– Acts 2:17
As a parent, sending our kids off on trips like this is an act of faith and trust. Trust in the adult leaders and faith that God will be at work in the lives of our kids; protecting and opening them up to new possibilities…new visions…new dreams.
As a pastor, my hope is that faith is energized, community is built and that these experiences become a launching point to deeper and greater faith formation.
Thanks to all of the adults, Pastor Dean, Chris, Brian, Dave, Kris, Jodi, Colin, Rob, Mary, who gave up 9 days of their lives for my kid (and a whole bunch of others.) And thanks be to God for working through this experience.
The stories will continue…and continue…and continue…and continue…because that is the way of our faith.