Back in the mid-eighties, John Vicary and I drove a van of kids to Frontier Ranch. He was the Area Director of Waco, and I was a really mediocre college volunteer leader. Sure, I could play guitar, lead songs, and perform skits, but my contact work was severely lacking. I was a walking example of “form without function.”
I’ll never forget that trip, as it changed everything for me. It wasn’t just the fact that a big offensive lineman named “Mackie” would sing Neil Diamond songs at the top of his lungs from the middle seat. It was the fact that I got to experience a year of contact work in one week.
Think about it: In the span of 7 days,we did the following:
Took a 28-hour road trip
Ate 21 meals together around a round table like a family
Sang 50+ songs at the top of our lungs together
Laughed incredibly hard
Experienced high adventure, fear, and trust
Lived in extremely close quarters (those old cabins were small!)
Leaned in and listened to God’s word
Talked about the things that are important in a safe environment with friends
Made critical life-changing decisions about Jesus
If all of those things happened in a year, it would have been an outstanding year. But in 7 days? It was the best week of our lives. And it changed the way I did Young Life. I finally got it. It was so MUCH more than my guitar skills, song leading, and skits. Contact work clicked.
A day after we got back, I called John Vicary and asked, “Do you think Jonathon and Rayford (two guys from our cabin) would want to go to a movie or do something this summer?” I’m sure he smiled when he answered, “Yes, I think they would.” That started a summer of movies, water volleyball at every Baylor apartment complex pool we could sneak in, too much fast-food, and hanging with those guys and all their friends. I even filled in for their baseball coach when he had to miss a game. (I never played baseball.)
Life from then on would be lived with kids and just two years later I found myself on staff. What will you do with your “year of contact work in one week” this summer? Don’t let it be the end of your ministry year! Let it be the start of living life with your kids. You’ve got relational capital. Cash it in!
Here are just a few suggestions…
There will never be any easier contact work then the first few days of camp. Be rested and ready before you go so you don’t miss out on reaping the dividends of a week well spent.
Let your leaders know that camp is actually three weeks. One week is out of town, and the other two are back home.
During those two weeks, it’s time to run hard! Kids want to be together. Take advantage of that fact and build a foundation of contact work that will carry you through the year.
After those two weeks, start summer campaigners up and own a night of the week. Cabin time does not have to end.
Lastly, speak vision into your kids over the summer and prepare impact they will have over the coming school year through their Young Life club.
And if you are not sure if your kids really want to spend time with you after camp, do what I did and call your staff person. I have no doubt they will smile like John did when they respond with a resounding, “YES.”
For summer contact work and resources, click HERE.
Written by Brian Summerall