There a few things I want my kids to experience in life.
Falling in love – the amazing forever kind.
Getting a great education….
Typical things…. But longer term stuff.
I want them to have some great experiences in their childhood and youthhood too. The kind of experiences that help them through life, help them discover and develop who they are. The kind of experiences that they will remember for life – for the fun, and the growth. The kind of experience that is independent from me and Rob.
Well, I think my 3 older kids had one of those exact experiences this last weekend.
Our church has an awesome youth program for kids aged 12-18. Weekly activities, conferences, service projects, camps, classes etc.. I grew up participating in this program and it was always great. We had amazing, committed, dedicated leaders. We learned so much. We had FUN! We got to create a whole group of peers outside of school. We had experiences that forever changed us and left a mark on our hearts – we developed testimonies and had experiences that words could not adequately describe. I feel so blessed to have had these influences and opportunities in my life.
This past weekend, our area held a “youth conference” for kids aged 12-18. Although Zach was not yet 12, they permitted him to go because he’s almost there:) The conference was located a 5 minute walk from our house in one of our old meetinghouses (normally the location is at least a 20-60 minute drive – so this was a bonus). It ran Friday night, all day Saturday into the late evening, and Sunday morning. Zandra was excited to go, Zach wasn’t sure if they’d let him, and Gabe was a bit ambivalent.
They arrived home on Friday night filled with stories and excitement. We were surprised, but it was mostly a games night, so figured they lucked out on enjoying the games.
Saturday night came and to our amazement, they were even more excited to tell of their day. Classes they had taken (about world religions, making choices, time management, myth busting, being a leader), variety shows they had participated in, meals and snacks, games and activities, and great interactions with new friends. They had so much fun — and learned a ton too!!
Now, I wasn’t surprised in some ways because that had always been my experience too growing up. It was so fun! But, in our area, there didn’t seem like a lot of kids. Gabe had only gone to a few things (given the fact that most activities fall in the time he’s with his Mom unfortunately, although he has enjoyed what he’s been to) so I wasn’t sure what to expect. And you know kids…. They tend to like to complain.
But not one complaint!
I held my breath for Sunday – because that was all the regular Sunday stuff – except they had their own youth meetings.
Rob was already home when they came home (they walked) and he said he saw them and had to take a picture because they looked so happy!
They then told him that they had an amazing time, it was so uplifting and they had really felt the Spirit – for the first time really they all said. He thought they were joking at first, but then quickly realized they weren’t. It was an amazing meeting!
Independent of us, they had had a weekend of learning, growth, spirit, laughter, and plain old fun. The kind of weekend that they will remember for life. The kind of weekend that teaches them things that they may only apply in years to come. The kind of weekend where they begin to really truly feel that they are special individuals with a purpose here on earth. The kind of weekend where lasting friendships are made, and memories of experiences are etched in their hearts. The kind of weekend where the Spirit moves and touches them and they learn to recognize those good feelings.
The kind of weekend I always hoped they would have as part of their youth. I want them to have experiences that shape them physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually; and this weekend hit the mark in all categories.
So grateful for these programs and these leaders.