September 1st // Kurtis McFadden

Posted on by SpokaneYFC

 

sum·mer camp

noun.

a magical place where kids play ridiculous games, laugh late into the night, eat ice cream, experience new activities, meet new friends, go swimming, smile until their cheeks give out, sing songs, learn about life, love and God, find peace and freedom, and altogether have a good ol’ time.

 

y·f·c camp

noun. synonym: absolute chaos.

a place similar to a traditional summer camp, but a little more… exciting -- for example, it’s near certainty a leader will find hershey’s syrup from a food fight in their ear, wake up to a blaring ring at 3:30am because a kid pulled the fire alarm, take a bleeding kid to the medic because they punched a wall and broke their hand, experience kids "creative" use of elicit vocabulary dropped throughout the week, get pie tossed in their face by their cabin, comfort the tears, ebbs and flows of camp relationships, and the list goes on. The key here is that kids will have one of the wildest, most jubilant, and impactful weeks of their lives.

 

Here is what’s so beautiful about YFC Camp: Youth for Christ leaders would choose YFC Camp over any other option every single time. Being a part of the mess and turmoil and uncensored battles these kids are living in is what makes all the time, tears, and money worth it.

It’s difficult to describe camp in just a few words because so much happens over the course of this week, but I hope to shed light on the purpose of why we prioritize this time with kids every summer.  

 

Clean Slate                                                                                                                                                                         

For some of our kids, life is normal and has it’s regular ups and downs, but for many of our kids, Spokane is a destructive place right now. This can be due to poverty, addiction, gang membership, abuse or simply tough circumstances. Removing kids from their every day world allows everyone to be on the same level and provides a safe haven for them to just be for a week.

 

Vulnerability                                                                                                                                                                        

“Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Dr. Brené Brown

I watched seven guys let their walls come crashing down over the course of a week. And it was painful. And brave. With tears included. But they also experienced true acceptance and connection and genuine friendship. Something that, for some, was the first taste of what it feels like to be known and loved by peers.

 

Belly Laughs                                                                                                                                                                      

Remember playing in the sandbox? Climbing trees and playing with dolls? Laughing until you cried? Me too. Some of our kids have great families and were nurtured well as children, but many of our students were robbed of their childhood. Their stories are unbelievably heart breaking and inspiring-- trust me. Kids need to be able to be kids and camp is one attempt at giving that opportunity back to them in a small way. Letting them zip line and go-cart, dance for hours, laugh all night long, have a giant food fight, be silly and be celebrated by their leaders allows them to experience the joy and exuberance of being a kid.

 

True Life                                                                                                                                                                            

Our hope at camp is to invite kids into what has changed our lives. Through knowing Jesus and participating in an intimate relationship with Him, our lives as leaders have been changed. We deeply desire kids to experience freedom, peace and love. And so we stuff our buses full of kids, love the heck out of them all week long, and introduce them to the Source who gives us life.

 

I’d like to introduce you to a few of our kids and what this week meant to them. *

Thomas: "Camp really gave me the extra push to really help myself realize that I needed God in my life, and it opened up my eyes to all the wonderful things he has been doing for me. Throughout my life, I've struggled with poverty, self-harm, confidence, and just seeing the overall value of life in general. I'm beyond blessed to have been able to meet such an amazing group of people at camp, and men that I can call my brothers. I'll forever cherish my brothers and the love they shared for me and for God. My future holds many questions for myself and for God, but I know I'll always have a strong support group every step of the way."

Jakobi: “By the time I was ten I’d been in about 12 homeless shelters all around the country. At times throughout growing up we’d have to sell our food stamps to pay rent, and I would starve for three or four weeks. When we moved to Gardner Street in Spokane I found YFC and would go there everyday to escape. Coming to camp I told the truth for the first time in ten years about my past and how hard it’s been. I’m scared, because if people really know me, they can hurt me. But I also know they can love me too. Now I’m back from camp and I haven’t lied to anyone yet. It feels good and I want to let more people in to who I am.”

Shayla: “Camp was the best experience I have ever had. I didn't have to worry about all the bad stuff going on at home. It was always good vibes and we always had something to do everyday.”

 

The week of camp is full of silliness, games, and hardly any sleep, but it is also a week when lives change, kids come to know their worth, find their identity, and experience abundant life. What an honor it is to be a part of.

 

(* Names changed to protect privacy)

 

Kurtis McFadden

West Central Youth Outreach Director
[email protected]

 

READ MORE ABOUT KURTIS AND HIS WORK AT YFC HERE.

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