One Week left! For me, that is.

On Friday this week, I will be leaving to study abroad in Argentina. Summer Navs will continue for one more week after my departure, but for me, my internship is coming to an end. I’d like to take this time to thank the Dickinson College Career Center. They were able to provide grant money for me so that I could afford to do this internship, instead of having a typical summer job. My summer has most certainly been a richer experience and I have learned a lot about something I want to invest my future in. Thank you, Dickinson College, for making that possible.

Last Wednesday, NavYouth took a day trip to Ocean City, Maryland. It could not have been a more perfect day. We had wonderful sunny weather with a nice breeze and the ocean water was the perfect temperature for swimming. We had five leaders and six students. We had fun swimming, boogie boarding, building sand castles, and exploring the boardwalk.

At our Thursday Nigh Nav Night, I had the opportunity to give a 30 minute talk on any topic related to the book of Proverbs. I chose to speak on what is worth more than the riches and achievements of this world:  God and his will working out in our lives. I encouraged the kids to not put their worth in their grades, their clothes, their athletic achievements, or anything else but rather to put their worth in their identity as God’s child. I emphasized that the point is not to abandon working hard in school or quit doing extracurricular activities, but rather to do them with the right attitude. I was very nervous while preparing what I was going to say because I had never done something like this before. It went very well and I found that I actually enjoyed it!

On Friday we had our weekly brunch. French toast was on the menu this week! Since we finished out Star Wars series, we played some telephone pictionary. Laughing together is a great way to build friendships!

Even though I am still working with Navs this week, this will be my last blog post. My responsibilities this week are much less – only two more events to attend! We are having a pool party on Wednesday evening and then Navs Night on Thursday. I will be saying goodbye then because on Friday I fly to Argentina to start the fall semester.  I will miss these students immensely, especially the chance to see them grow up during the school year. I can’t wait to hear news about how Navs is going in the fall!

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Halfway!

We are now halfway through our Summer Navs. In the beginning of August we’ll take a hiatus and Navs will start again when school starts in the fall. Here’s what we’ve been up to the past week:

On Tuesday I led devotions. We looked at John 11 – the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. We experimented with reading the passage in a couple of different ways: reading repeatedly, prayerfully, imaginatively, and reading to remember. We had a good time with a great discussion, looking deeper into this familiar story.

Wednesday evening we had a great evening of fun doing a Photo Scavenger Hunt. Each team was given a camera and a driver (one of the adult leaders) as well as a list of captions. Each team had an hour and a half to take photos that creatively fit each caption. Afterwards, each team’s submissions were judged and we all laughed as we looked through each other’s photos. The prizes were finger nerf guns, so we had an epic battle in the front yard. It was also one of our student’s birthday so we had a surprise cake. Some of our new students came out and really had a great time. We got great feedback from them and I am sure we will see them again!

On Thursday we had our usual Nav Night. We had a couple of brand new freshmen girls come, so we enjoyed getting to know them better.

Friday was a big day!  In the late morning we had brunch – Dave made us chocolate chip pancakes and Mark made us scrambled eggs. We had a great time eating good food and playing catch phrase. Afterwards, we concluded our watching of the Star Wars original trilogy with Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Then the boys left, but us girls stayed at my house and had a camp-out sleepover. We cooked dinner and dessert over a fire pit in my yard and slept outside in a tent. We also did fun girly slumber party activities, like nail painting and friendship quizzes. It was a great bonding time, particularly for some of our new freshmen girls. We saw one of our more shy girls really come out of her shell and warm up to us. We talked and laughed then talked and laughed some more. My heart melted when at the end of the night, as we were going to sleep, one girl exclaimed “I feel like I can tell Nav girls anything!” Her sincerity and her sweet personality wishes I had more than just this summer with this group.

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The Swing of Things

This past week was our first “normal” week at NavYouth. The Summer schedule is fully set with weekly activities. From here on out, each week will be more or less the same in terms of activities, but hopefully we’ll draw more and more students to each event and see friendships build among us and the teens.

 

Tuesdays we have group devotionals at Dave & Julie’s house. This week Dave led and I am leading next week. We pick a passage from the Bible and give the group some questions to think about and some strategies for delving into the text. Then we break off to spend twenty minutes or so reading and praying by ourselves. Afterwards, we re-group and discuss. It went really well last week, looking at Mark 1:16-29. Even though the turn-out was small, we had a great discussion. I hope more show up next week!

Every Tuesday night in July we have open-mic nights. It’s a great time seeing the creativity and talent that teens in the area have!

Each Wednesday is a different fun activity. This past Wednesday was the Fourth of July, so we all went and saw the fireworks together. We played lots of Catch Phrase and Frisbee – fun way to spend the evening! Next week we’re doing a Photo Scavenger Hunt – can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Thursday night was NavNight. We looked at Proverbs and what it says about trusting God with your life. Ben, one of our seniors, also treated us to chocolate-covered strawberries with graham cracker and marshmallow – it pays to have a kid who aspires to be a chef! It was a good night.

Friday we had brunch at Kerry’s place, followed by watching Star Wars Episode V. Being a Star Wars geek myself, it was great fun watching others see the film for the first time! I can’t wait for Episode VI next week.

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Camping and other matters

From Sunday to Tuesday, we took a NavYouth Camping Trip to Greenbrier State Park. We had five leaders and eight students spending two nights camping by a lake. We had a blast! We hiked, canoed, played volleyball, swam, sang, sat around the campfire, and cooked lots of food. It was great to see friendships forming among us all, as many of the students were relatively new to the group. We were also able to read the Bible together, looking at Proverbs 25 and 26. It was great to have good discussion about how useful God’s wisdom can be in our lives! Since I did the bulk of the planning for the trip, I was especially glad that everything went so smoothly – especially the meals!

On Wednesday night we had our Welcome Freshmen party. About six of our current students came, in addition to the leaders, to help lead games and break the ice with the newcomers. About ten new freshmen came as well. Some knew each other already and as a result, they huddled tight together. It was hard to break that circle and get conversation going! But sure enough, we did. At first I could tell they were all very nervous, but I think they see now that we don’t bite. I hope they will feel comfortable enough to come out to Navs again! Overall, the party went very well. I am especially proud of how well our students did talking with the new freshmen, especially because these freshmen were  not necessarily easy to break the ice with!

Tonight is our second Nav Night of the summer. We hope to see some of these same freshmen come out again!

 

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Busy Week!

This past Saturday, my dad hosted a workshop on mentoring youth in El Paso, Texas. I was lucky enough to go with him. I had a great time catching up with old friends, but I also had a great time introducing my dad to people he has only heard about.

The church in El Paso is in the process of building their youth program. They want to focus on building individual mentoring relationships between the adults and the youth. At the workshop we talked about how important it is to love and show support through tangible actions and words. One thing discussed was the importance of listening, asking good questions, and encouraging them to have their own opinion, but be able to support it. We discussed a lot about breaking down perceived barriers between adults and youth. This means us (as adults) taking the time to show interest in a teen and not be quick to correct or judge, but rather show love and make an effort to understand. It was really good to talk about all these issues in a group. I hope to apply lots of these principles to my work this summer!

On Wednesday I flew back from El Paso to Maryland. That evening myself, Dave, and Kerry met with about five of the current Nav Youth students to plan a Welcome Freshmen event for next week. The main purpose was to inspire these kids to really take initiative in welcoming and building friendships with the new incoming students. Us as leaders know that this is important but we really think the best recruiters are students! We want to challenge our older students to take a special interest in the new students because, not only is it more effective, but also it will be sure to help build a cohesive community for the future! I am very proud of these students because they seem to really have caught our vision for this Welcome Freshmen event: a fun, relaxed atmosphere as well as sharing what Navs is all about – a place where kids who grew up in the church and kids who have never stepped foot in a church can find out about what Jesus has to do with every day life.

Thursday Night was our first Nav Night of the summer. At each Nav Night we play a few games, sing some worship songs together, and have a talk by one of the leaders. This summer we are looking at the book of Proverbs and what it has to do with real life!

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A Brief Jaunt

This past week I’ve been mainly working on planning the logistics of our upcoming camping trip – menus, gear lists, schedules, etc. We have a crew of 8 boys and 6 girls plus 5 leaders, so it should be a really fun crew! We will hike, canoe, roast s’mores, swim, and just enjoy each other’s company. We will also take the opportunity to have some morning devotions together – it is so delightful to enjoy God’s presence in his beautiful creation! The trip is not for another week and half, but I have been getting the planning done early because from Friday till Wednesday, my dad and I will be in El Paso, Texas.

El Paso, Texas? Isn’t that a long way to go for a long weekend? Yes, yes it is. However, El Paso is a very special place very dear to my heart. A little background for you: Last summer I interned for 8 weeks at a bilingual church in El Paso called Las Tierras Community Church. The pastor there, Tito Padilla, is a very good family friend of ours. This past winter he asked my dad to come down to El Paso to give a workshop on mentoring teens. Las Tierras is a very young church and Tito is still working on developing a youth program of some sorts. He asked my dad to come because of he has been working with NavYouth and mentoring teens for 40 years. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, my dad will be giving a workshop on discipleship to about 6-8 adults of the Las Tierras congregation. I am going to help my dad with the language barrier but I also hope to learn some new things as well!

I will update you on the El Paso trip when I return. Looking forward I am in El Paso the 15th – 20th, the first summer Nav Night is the 21st, and we leave to go camping on the 24th! Things are really starting to pick up, in a good way.

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School’s Out For Summer!

While I have been done with school for about 4 1/2 weeks now, the magic of the beginning of summer is fresh again because all of the local  public schools just finished on Friday the 8th. Although the official summer ministry program does not start until the 21st, for both the leaders and the kids it feels like summer really is upon us and we are all very excited about it.

This past Tuesday, Kerry, Dave, and I met to plan our Welcome Freshmen event. We are planning to have lots of fun group games, specifically the type that will spark conversation and allow people to get to know each other better. Us as leaders will also be introducing the freshmen to what Navs is like – our fun, relaxed atmosphere as well as what we believe spiritually and how we want to be a supportive, helpful community in their lives. We are most excited to involve our current NavYouth students as much as possible. We feel that if a freshman feels truly welcomed by an older student – not just an adult – they will be more likely to return and get involved. We also want the incoming students to see what Navs is like from the perspective of a fellow student. We are hoping to have one or two of our current students give a brief testimony about why they come to Navs and what they have learned from being a part of our Nav Community.

In the upcoming week we will be having another planning meeting with our current NavYouth students. This will be an opportunity to encourage our kids to really welcome, reach out, and build friendships with the incoming group. This will require them to step outside of their comfort zone but I am confident in their ability!

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Behind the Scenes

Dave (my supervisor) and I got breakfast the other day to discuss in more detail what exactly I will be doing as a NavYouth Intern. I have already spoken to what I already knew – hanging out with teens, building relationships with girls, and planning various events with the other staff. What Dave and I were talking about is more of the extra things I will be doing to build myself as a spiritual leader.

Kerry, another staff member, will be mentoring me specifically. Together, we are going to go through a book called Down to Earth Discipling by Scott Morton which has very practical, applicable advice for developing and maintaining mentor-mentee relationships. We will also be doing a Bible study together. I will also be doing some personality-type quizzes such as StrengthsFinder and SHAPE. The idea is to learn more about myself, my strengths, and how I work best in order to learn how to work smarter, not harder and see exactly what roles I do best in on a team.

I will also be conducting interviews to learn more about youth ministry. I am hoping to interview some parents of teens involved with NavYouth to get their perspective – what they like, what they dislike, and their viewpoint in general. I am also planning to interview other youth workers in the area. NavYouth has one way of doing ministry, but there are many methods and philosophies that I would like to explore.

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Getting Geared Up

Right now NavYouth is closing out the year to take a short break before things start up for the summer. The last Tuesday night meeting was this past Tuesday. I got to meet the current students and I was introduced as the summer intern. On Saturday is the Senior Celebration which is the end-of-the-year party to celebrate the graduating seniors as well as say farewell to those not returning. After Saturday, Navs will take a break until the last week of June, where we will hit the ground running with the summer program! However, do not think I will be idle these three weeks – I will be working on planning as well as reading books on discipleship and mentoring youth.

The leaders and myself had a meeting to start planning the summer. We sure will be busy! The idea is for every morning this summer the kids to wake up and wonder, “What is Navs up to today?” We’ll have weekly meetings, open mic nights, bible studies, camping trips, beach trips, and just fun hang-out times. The goal of the summer is not to be strenuous, intense, or overly serious, but rather to have a great time having fun together. The purpose in this is to build community among the teens as well as give opportunities for the leaders to build relationships with them. I  myself hope to meet one-on-one with one or two girls this summer and be a real friend and mentor to them. We are expecting a big new group of incoming high school freshmen, making our purpose of the summer even more important. We hope we can get these freshmen really connected to the group and build lasting relationships with them.

The specific things that I am in charge of planning this summer are icebreakers and games for the regular weekly meetings as well as our Beach Day in July and weekly Friday brunches. However I will be attending and lending a helping hand in all that we do this summer! I am getting very excited.

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Let The Games Begin!

Hi. My name is Lindsey and I just finished my sophomore year at Dickinson College as a Spanish major with an Education minor. This summer I am interning at NavYouth, a Christian ministry to high school youth in Columbia, Maryland.

NavYouth is in my blood – literally. My dad helped start the ministry back in the 70′s working with the Navigators (NavYouth still is a ministry of the Navigators) and has been running NavYouth in various capacities ever since. What started as part-time volunteering became his career. As a kid, I grew up camping, going to the beach, having barbecues, playing sports, and more all with high schoolers. When I was in high school myself I went to Navs. At this point, my dad was working more administratively, behind the scenes. Dave and Julie were my leaders and we became very close during my four years with them. This summer they will be my supervisors and I could not be more excited to continue to learn from them. Kerry  is another NavYouth staff. She lived with my family during my Junior and Senior years of high school so I am very excited to be working with her closely again.

Over the course of the next two months, I will be joining Dave, Julie, Kerry, and other adult volunteers in the NavYouth summer ministry. I will be involved with planning as well as attending events. We have weekly meetings every Thursday night in addition to fun events on the weekends or even weekdays (since it is summertime!). I am very excited to get to know the students, particularly the girls. I hope I can foster some good relationships and be a mentor for them. I am particularly excited to draw in the rising freshmen as they look forward to being in high school in the fall. I am excited to see what the summer may hold!

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