Meet Laurie Bradley, our Huntington Beach Club Coordinator and Committee Member sharing her experience as the Childcare Lead for the Young Life Oakbridge High School Winter Camp.
I had the wonderful opportunity of going to camp this past weekend! We took seven mamas, three dads, and six sweet children to the foothills of Ramona. I didn’t really know what to expect. This was a camp for high school teenagers, not teen parents.
How would this work? Would it work?
Upon arriving on Friday afternoon we went to work to transform a lounge and a game room into “nurseries” for our own North OC YoungLives babies and toddlers as well as the other 16 YoungLives little ones from the San Clemente and Escondido area clubs. It was really fun to work alongside my friends (that would also be caring for the children), transforming these spaces into safe and welcoming areas for the babies. We moved furniture and game tables, brought in toys, swings, play pens, craft supplies and LOTS of snacks. We were ready for the moms and babies to arrive!Around 7 pm we rushed down the hill to meet the car loads of teen parents, babies and volunteers. I was so excited to get started! We had no idea what to expect as the babies were dropped off with us that first night. In the “Newborn to Walkers” room we had 10 babies under the age of one. We had five “helpers” in our nursery, three of them were pretty inexperienced but willing to do anything! I was humbled by the way these young people dug in and did what was necessary to care for these little ones. The first night was a late one, we had babies until almost 12am. I was really worried about having them that late but that first night was so good. The babies all fell asleep and we had such a sweet, peaceful night. There were literally babies everywhere, we had four playpens, two swings and five sets of arms – every place held a baby. We even had one young man volunteering with us that wore a front pack with a baby in it because that was the only way the baby would fall asleep. It was great!
The next day was full of activities for the teens. We had the babies for about seven hours total. The day was so full of joy and fun as we held babies, rocked them to sleep, and got to interact with their moms. It was so cool getting to spend some time with the moms of these babies as well. As long as I’ve been involved in YoungLives I have been amazed at how brave, strong, and capable these young moms are. This weekend experience gave me an even closer look into their lives as they often came into the nursery to nurse, change, or check on their babies. I was able to have sweet conversation with a few of the moms and was impressed again that these girls are doing an amazingly hard thing raising their babies while most of them are trying to graduate high school.
The girls and guys that attended camp heard the gospel clearly presented and were given an opportunity to move closer to Jesus. I am humbled that God allows us to be a part of what He is doing. I want to end this by encouraging you to get out there and serve! There is truly no greater blessing, it gives us the opportunity to get outside of ourselves and our own circumstances and focus on others. Whatever form serving takes, it’s always a blessing! We go into it thinking we’re going to be the ones blessing others and we end up being far more blessed ourselves!
“You my brothers and sisters were called to be free, but don’t use your freedom to indulge in the flesh. Rather serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13