On Friday February 27th we headed out for an adventure of a lifetime: High School and Junior High winter camp. This years theme - "Hidden: Your life is hidden with Christ in God."
Here is Simone at the registration table. I will probably sing the praises of Simone and her husband Jono (youth pastors) throughout this whole blog, so be ready for it ;). Simone did an EXCELLENT job organizing this camp. Not only did she organize all of Kingsfield Church, but she also was the center for all FOUR churches who came with us. And the best thing about Simone, is that she has such a calm demeanor about her... I love being around her :).
Then there is me, who makes statements like, "Put me on the bus... if it's going down with all those kids in it, I'm going down too!" I can definitely be a little more "intense" than Simone ;), but here I am (intently) just making sure that I have everyone's permission slips.
Just in case he lost a pair of goggles...
This is all of us getting ready to leave. We prayed and then we all had some cookies!
I thought this was a great picture :) ... Blythe gets most of these photo credits by the way...
Aubree and Jordan
Jono got a GREAT deal on a bus because he is friends with the guy who owns it. On a serious note - I had an awesome conversation with the bus driver about how there were people in his church who were super mad that he painted it purple. Apparently he got right in their face (in a nice way I'm sure) about their reasons why - thinking that purple was a homosexual color. He told them they were being ridiculous, and that God loves all colors, and homosexuals. He was pretty cool.
AJ got on the bus and immediately went to sleep... he was soooo tired
I like that his pillow is orange, just like his hair :)
Snakes on a plane?? No, kids on a bus (this was our ongoing joke somehow...did they even SEE that movie? I hope not...)
Trying to get trucks to honk, of course
This is the main chapel where we got together the first night for worship and games, and for Saturday night extended worship/Hillsong concert ;). The high school group spent their weekend in the main chapel, while the Junior Highers had the smaller chapel.
Here is 3 out of 5 members of our Junior Worship team at Kingsfield who led the junior highers in worship through song all weekend! They are just the sweetest boys ever, led by Megan, our worship leader. They did an AMAZING job all weekend. I really can't say enough about how well they did... they were such a blessing.
This is my girls cabin. Maritza and I had 5 girls in our cabin, all 6th graders, and we had a blast! I forgot how young 6th grade is! I have been so used to older high school girls - trying to get them out of bed in the morning... trying to get them to stop doing their makeup to get to breakfast on time, etc. These 6th graders were EASY! They popped outta bed at 630am and were playing in the snow! AND, they don't wear any makeup!!! We only had one problem - prying them away from each other! Which really isn't a problem at all ;). All of these girls were not connected AT ALL before this weekend, and now they are all BFF's! God is good!!!
One of my junior high kids, Jared, celebrated his birthday up at camp. He was pretty stoked to wear the birthday hat (which I believe is still buried in the snow up there), and eat a 4x4 chicken sandwich :). Verdugo Pines is just awesome at making birthday kids feel loved.
Love this shot of Camyron, and, if you look closely, Matt's dad in the right upper corner :)
So here is the Junior High chapel. We decided to make all the kids wait outside until everyone got there... it helped the vibe to have them all enter at one time (good idea Jono!!)
Aaron was the guest speaker for High School all weekend, but we were blessed to have him for Junior High on Saturday morning. Here he is having the kids participate in an analogy of how sin can hang on to you from every direction. This REALLY helped the kids (and me!) understand this idea better. Aaron did a great job, and he is really a great guy.
Playing the noodle game... I think our best time together was on Saturday morning. The kids loved the games, and the message from Aaron was really great. Everyone was still full of energy, and we all had a great time.
On Saturday morning Ted Worrell came up with a game idea of having the kids race around our chapel through the snow. We had alternative motives to this because there is no trail from the upper chapel to our lower chapel, and so you have to go all the way around, or you have to go through the snow. The problem with the snow was that it was so deep and soft that we would literally just go through it. Some of the kids would go down all the way to their thighs! It freaked me out as I swore there was sinking sand underneath it all. Anyway, making them run around didn't really work, but it was still really funny.
High schoolers are a little different in the sense that they want to just "chill", and hang out and talk with you. Junior highers just want to have a good time playing. I didn't really think about this before going to camp, and next year I will definitely wear my snow pants so I can play with them more. Though I don't even want to think about next year and all the wonderful 8th graders I'm losing :(
But here are some pictures of the Junior High boys finding a great ramp in the wilderness. They had a great time climbing up the hill and coming down over this log. I must have sat out there for 2 hours watching them do this over and over again... they couldn't get enough... they are so cute!
Then they came up with this idea! They are so adorable!! They had SO much fun.
J. High Kiddos
Austin, he helped shovel all the snow for padding
If you look closely, this is me cheering on the boys to go higher so they will catch more air. I'm just lucky no one got hurt ;)
Ah yes, I loved having breakfast with Jono and Simone on Sunday morning because we finally had a chance to see each other! We were all pretty exhausted at this point, but were STOKED because of how well the weekend went.
Now for my serious Knepper moment - When the Knepper's came and took over the youth ministry at Kingsfield, I was co-directing it. It was hard for me to let go, but at the same time, I really had to just leave completely because I was SO crazy busy with Biola, and just my life out there. I prayed about whether I should stay as a leader, and even went to the winter camp that year, but even after that, I felt like I needed to go. To be honest, I didn't think that they really wanted me around (which Simone and I talked about the other day, and I found out some secrets that just made me laugh about that whole situation back then, sheesh). But we were all still friends because I still did go to Kingsfield, and they were 2 out of the 0.5 young people we have at our church. ;)
But when I came on staff, I really wondered how our relationship would develop. It started out slowly, and through me becoming involved with Junior High, has made the relationship really blossom. But this is the cool thing about the Kneppers - it's never really about Junior High... it's about us. For example, I know that if I wasn't doing J. High, or even not working at the church anymore, the Kneppers would still want to be a part of my life. I want to nickname them "lifers", because that is how they are - they just love you for you. They want to hang with you because they want too... not because the church event requires them to do so.
I also feel blessed because I have just loved getting to know Simone better on a girly level. Simone will tell you like it is, but will be loving at the same time. It is true, you don't ever want her to be mad at you (as Frank would say), and I HAVE indeed experienced this (it scared the bees outta me), but she's a forgiver. My favorite moment with Simone happened about a month ago. We were talking about winter camp and she had to leave for class. We had all said our goodbyes, and I was still talking with Jono in the staff room. All of a sudden Simone walks backs in the room and starts to approach me. My brain is thinking, "what the heck is she doing lunging at me right now...", and then it happened - she hugged me. Out of nowhere, just felt compelled to hug me. Jono and I were sitting there both a little in shock, and then she just walked out of the room again. It was the BEST.THING.EVER. I told EVERYONE, and they were all so jealous (because Simone doesn't really initiate hugs). I love her.
The Kneppers are truly a great encouragement in my life, and I am so blessed to be able to see them almost every day. They have done GREAT things with our youth ministry (and everything else they do!) at Kingsfield, and I will truly cherish this time that I have had with them (not that I'm going anywhere...) ;)