When you pack your bag for the new school year, don’t forget these 3 things from camp
Back to school! Three words that have the power to make your head swim with so many feelings. Anticipation, anxiety, excitement, dread. How do you keep your head above water while you’re thrust into a new routine with new people around you, possibly all at a new place? Schedules, assignments, reading lists, that cute boy in your English class. Where does it end??
Well, if you went to camp with InterVarsity this summer, you’ve already got supplies in your pack that will make your transition back to school way smoother.
#1 – Community
Think about your friends at camp. You made some great ones, right? Things got deep. But a lot of the time, it isn’t the same when you go back to school.
Ben, a program leader at Pioneer Pacific Camp, says the biggest issue faced by the teenagers in his program was “trying to live a Christ-based life in high school.”
It’s not easy to be a Christian when your friends aren’t. When there’s pressure all around you to drink or party, or even when it just seems embarrassing to believe in Jesus. (Like, will people judge?) What you experienced at camp was real. It matters. So, what do you do?
Ben says: “You’re going to have to have people to support you. Get involved in a group and find people you can talk to honestly.” He adds that, while advice can be helpful, “if you don’t have community, it’s so much harder.”
Luckily you can find communities on campus that value the same things that were valued at camp. Space for questions. Learning about God. Serving those around you. Having fun!! These things, along with staff who, like your cabin leaders, value you deeply, are all part of InterVarsity campus groups, too. We have groups at high schools and universities across the country. They are right there on campus. Go find them and stay connected.
#2 – Courage
If you went to camp, I know you did things that you probably hadn’t done before. Whether it was climbing the high wall for the first time or asking a really honest question in front of your cabin. Maybe you had to work through a fight or lead a wide-game. Those things take courage!
When you go back to campus, it’s easy to think the same things can’t happen. It’s a different environment, with different people. But if you’re worried about ANYTHING when you go back to school, remember what you did at camp. Remember how God met you in the new, challenging or even plain awkward things and brought you through them. He will be faithful in doing the same for you on campus.
One way that Nina, one of our camp cabin leaders, wants to bring courage back to campus with her, is through asking hard questions and remaining intentional.
“What struck me the most [about my campers] is how they had no fear in asking questions, and that was super cool. At university, I’m often afraid to ask questions because I think I should already know the answer. And these girls I led were just totally not afraid.
“And like, if I see someone sitting and eating alone, to go talk to them! I think that’s something that, when you go to a secular university and just have your own friend group, it’s hard to be bold enough to talk to other people. But I think that’s something I could definitely bring back to campus.”
Be bold. Don’t forget that God is with you and is perfectly capable of enabling you to do far more than you can imagine. Step out of your comfort zone. He’ll be there with you.
#3 – Commitment
Finally, remember those nights when God really touched your heart and you were moved to follow him. Remember how nice it was to unplug from technology for a week (or two, or three). Remember how you worked through conflicts and issues with your friends when you could’ve easily turned away.
These things take commitment and effort. It’s not as easy outside of camp, because you’re in a bigger community and you’re not with your friends all the time.
Christine, who works with young leaders at Pioneer Pacific Camp and is part of InterVarsity at school, says that “camp is a place where you are fully present and removed from distractions. And camp is also a space where you can work through good spiritual disciplines and make them habits. It’s where you can work on your character and equally learn how to love others well.”
And Christine hopes to carry her commitment to these habits back to campus with her.
“You can take those back to campus too, and hopefully keep those habits strong. Like, I really, really hope I don’t get back into the Netflix habit when I go back to school. It’s been so nice not having technology at camp.”
It’s tough, but remember that the first thing you can have with you at school is your InterVarsity campus family. They get it. And they’re right there with you.
If you’re still looking for a campus group to get involved with, click here.