Last Saturday, I went to my first Young Life Camp in Ramona, California with North OC YoungLives. The camp is called Oakbridge. We took seven teen moms, three teen dads, and their babies and toddlers from both the Huntington Beach and Santa Ana clubs. As a leader, I had the opportunity to be with the moms for the weekend which was special as I am a new mother myself with another on the way. I didn’t know what to expect, but I pictured a more “rugged” camp experience remembering my church camp days when I was a kid. A close friend had assured me that Young Life Camps are “really nice,” and boy, was she right! After a much-needed group pit stop at In-N-Out for dinner, we arrived Friday night around 8:00 p.m., entering the camp down a dark, winding dirt road. Even in the dark with the lights illuminating the campground, I could tell this would not be that “rugged” experience I had as a kid. There was a nice swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, and even beach volleyball. The cabins were really nice too.
After the leaders, teen moms, and the babies unpacked and got settled in to our two very nice rooms with multiple bunk beds, babies were delivered to childcare and campers and leaders met up for our first club night. For those not familiar with Young Life, Club is a time where we all piled into a room set up like a small auditorium with a stage. A band played fun pop culture music, which we all sang along to. Then the infamous skit happened – Hurricane and Tornado entered the room to an 80’s heavy metal song dressed in full-on 80’s heavy metal band attire, (i.e. silver shiny pants, big hair wigs and fingerless leather gloves!) The skit unfolded as the two remained in character about being an infamous air guitar band there to perform at Oakbridge Camp. That’s when the crazy games turned up a notch. A leader and a student got called up from the various Young Life and YoungLives locations in southern California. The games were all a bit crazy, such as leaders having to chug a 2-liter bottle of diet soda through their student’s sock as fast as they could. It was all in good fun and very entertaining and hysterical and also, a little gross.
After games, the most impactful and memorable part of camp happened – the teens got to learn about Jesus. The camp speaker for the weekend was Robbie Boyer, the Area Director from Newport Mesa Young Life. The theme for the weekend was “Who Is God and Why Do We Care?” Over the course of the weekend, we had four club events together that included four different stories for the teens to learn about Jesus. Robbie shared the story of Jairus’ daughter when Jesus stops for the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, the story of the woman caught in adultery that the Pharisees wanted to stone but Jesus saves, and finally the story of the crucifixion and resurrection.
After each club, we had cabin time where each group went back to their cabins to talk about the message. Through this intimate time, the teens got to learn more about Jesus, ask questions, and be open and honest with where they’re at with various struggles in their lives. I believe these were the most impactful times for the teens. For some, it was the first time they had someone to really listen to them or answer their questions. It was really cool to see how they were learning about Jesus and his character through these stories Robbie shared – that Jesus loves them and wants a relationship with them despite what they were struggling with in their lives.
The weekend was filled with fun, good food, silly and messy games, hanging out, holding and caring for cute babies, and getting to bond with these amazing teen moms that I couldn’t admire more for all their hard work and sacrifices they are making for their children. I feel so honored that I could attend this camp as a leader and am looking forward to seeing how Jesus continues to work in these teen moms and dads’ lives.
~Jessica Watkins, YoungLives Mentor