Global Training August 2019


My first summer assignment was work crew boss (Pits) at Frontier Ranch in July 1974. It was there that my training as a disciple and as a leader was accelerated beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. Each subsequent assignment was a catalyst for further deepening of faith and finding my voice as a leader. I have learned plenty from good books and classrooms, but I have learned more about life in Christ from YL assignments because of the living laboratory of faith and community that happens there. Being in an intense mission community for a month becomes a model for the possibilities that exist in my community at home. To say that YL assignments deeply shaped my leadership and faith would be an understatement.


Assignments are unique in this way:  they are “more.” More laughter, more tears, more conflict, more reconciliation, more joy, more sorrow, more transformation and redemption, more healing and more hope and prayer, and of course, even a chance at more of Jesus.


The ministry leadership learning that takes place on assignments is as fine as there is. The intensity, the modeling, the experiments all lend themselves to better leadership and even character development.  Though no one suggests a name change, it would be fair to say that YL camps and camping are fundamentally training environments so that it would be reasonable to refer to every camp as a training camp. Many countries around YL think of camp this way and this shows great insight and higher expected outcomes .


In 2008, Lost Canyon did an experiment with a multi-country assignment team. Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Paraguay, US, Argentina, and South Africa.  Most leaders, began the week (which happened to be all US campers) with a question: ‘How is this going to work?’ Thick accents and cultural hits and misses aside, all involved came away with a bigger view of God and a bigger view of His Kingdom.


We always approached assignments the same way:  bring as much of our area or region with us as we could. We would beg, borrow, and persuade to get more work crew and summer staff spots. We wanted to have committee and donors come as adult guests. This not only made for great assignments, it meant we took the “experiences” home with us. These were touchpoints of courage and faith that we know will last a lifetime.


Whether you were watching this happen in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Mongolia, Armenia, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Scotland or the Czech Republic, the elements are the same:

  • Hard work. 

  • Fervent prayers. 

  • Creating environments where the gospel is seen and heard with power. 

  • Joy inexpressible. 

  • Kids going from death to life. 

  • Leaders being redirected to a lifetime walk of faith. 

  • Work crew finding community and mission for a lifetime. 

  • Summer staff choosing new career paths.


I have had about 30 summer assignments.  Whenever I visit a camp now, Susan sees it in my eyes….I want to do another one, but can I still go to sleep by 10:30?  

Written by Mary Caldwell