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Learning by Leading: The SLS Experience

April 20, 2018

Throughout the summer, how did you experience growth in one area of your life while in the SLS program?

I grew in my perspective about what leadership means by learning through experience the importance of serving others with humility. I came into the summer with a rather consumeristic mindset, expecting my experience to centered around benefiting my own personal development. I later realized that the most personal growth actually happens when we are focused on serving others. I thought a summer of leadership development would be centered around me striving to be "better" at leading others. My SLS experience taught me that leadership means sharing in the sufferings of Christ by the power of the Spirit by emptying myself, laying my life down, and cultivating an openness to God working through my weaknesses.

Talk about a valuable relationship that you built with a camper or fellow staffer. How did you initially connect with them? What made the connection meaningful to you?

I connected for the first time with my running partner (what we call prayer-partners at HoneyRock) for the summer, Abby, while learning to canoe together. I remember fighting against the wind just outside the lagoon canoeing area and realizing my lack of paddling skills. Abby had the grace to let me sit in the back to steer although I was an amateur at canoeing and was slowing us down. Her willingness to ask me about my story meant so much to me during a time in the summer when I was feeling most lonely. Her support and prayer throughout the summer deeply shaped my experience at SLS, and our friendship that summer culminated in the opportunity to co-counsel a cabin of 7th graders together during Residential Camp Session 3.

Describe a time when your perspective shifted during the summer: What sparked this shift? How did it change the way you lived/led for the rest of your time in SLS?

My perspective shifted after the Intro Camp final fire, a time of reflection which happens at the end of our first weeks session of 3rd-5th grade campers. All of the female campers and counselors were gathered around a bonfire, sharing what they had learned during camp. One of my campers reflected on our cabin's Psalm 139 theme, sharing, "This week I learned that God thinks I'm beautiful." The simplicity and profound truth of her statement brought me to tears, and that moment shifted my trajectory of ministry for the summer. I left that bonfire with new trust in God's faithfulness to communicate his love to campers through, and in spite of, my imperfect efforts to love my campers well.