This time of year is always so hard for me. We just recently started our Confirmation class. There are 10 kids in the class which is amazing and wonderful. It means that we will have 8 or 9 new youth in youth group next year. That is so exciting because I love it when we get new youth in our group. Our youth do an amazing job of including everyone. It really is pretty special. That is the amazing part!
The problem is that this time of year means that we are getting close to the end of youth group for a group of seniors. I think that one of the two hardest parts of being a Youth Director is having to let go of the youth. When you spend 7 years loving them, caring for them, and being with them all the time, it is hard to let go. I know it's harder on their parents because they will be sending them off to school and they will be leaving the nest but after parents, family, and coaches; myself and the mentors have probably been with them for the longest part of their formative years.
This year is particularly hard because of the seniors that are graduating. I have grown very close to all of them. All of our youth are so special and so important but this senior class is really important to me.
Harper has been here since day 1. I have watched her grow in so many ways. It really is amazing to see her now. I can remember the shy Harper that would never get up in front of a group and speak or be the leader. That has changed. Harper is a confident, beautiful, smart young woman who has blossomed in so many ways since I first met her. She always has a smile on her face and love in her heart. Did I mention that she always has a bow in her hair? I know that when Harper goes out into the world she is going to take it by storm and do amazing things. I really am proud of her and who she has become. She was one of the first youth that I have had since she was a 6th grader. She is co president of the youth group now and I don't know that I would of thought of her holding that position when she was in 6th grade. Thank you for the memories Harper!
Kenzie came to youth group only a couple of years ago. I believe her freshman year in High School. I remember first meeting Kenzie in the hospital when she and I were both visiting Harper after her back surgery. She was just as bubbling and excited then as she is now. Kenzie is so smart, innovative, and you can not find a harder worker than her. My relationship with Kenzie has grown over these last couple of years and although I have been hard on her at times and pushed her to reach her potential, I know that our relationship is stronger because of it. I will always remember Kenzie as my strong willed go getter that can really dig a hole. (She knows what that means). You are the best Kenzie!
Danielle came to our youth group during her 7th grade year. She really started getting involved during her 8th grade year. There is a certain spirit about Danielle that I will miss. It is that loving, caring, I want to fix things spirit. She is always caring about others and wants them to be happy. She does this over thinking about herself first. It is pretty amazing! There are so many adventures we have been on over the years from ASP to video shoots, to Pilgrimage. It was been an amazing ride, thanks for buying a ticket!
Lee is a youth that made youth group a priority on her own. One day Lee showed up to the church having walked from their house. Lee walked in joined Sunday school and by the end of the morning was singing in front of the whole church with us. Lee because a valuable part of the youth program and has been ever since. Lee has been through things that some of us can't even imagine. Life has been hard for Lee. That is why I will always remember Lee for Lee's inside strength. The strength that keeps Lee going from one day to the next. It's a strength that many of us wish we had. I admire that. I wish I was that strong. Thank you for the constant reminder that strength and faith can get us through anything.
Ben is not as active in youth group this year as he has been in the past. It is a little hard because I feel like he is already gone but I will never forget Ben. Ben grew up in our youth group in a lot of ways. The Ben that started as a 6th grader with that boyish grin and those random comments has transformed into this handsome, strong, football player. One of my favorite things was when Ben and I would play Call of Duty and talk to each other over our headsets. I felt that really helped our relationship to grow. We are both not the gamers we used to be but that doesn't mean that we don't still talk about it now and then. Be good Benny, be good!
I know that we still have a couple of months left but it will be hard to write or say any of this when that time comes so I thought I would write some of it today. We are going on our last Girls' retreat with those senior girls today. It will be a lot of fun but a sad reminder that the end is near.
I don't know where life will take each of them I just hope that they remember the good times we had in youth group, that God loves them so much, and that they should all know how to write a dissertation on world peace. I just want you to go out into the world and be the best Lee, Harper, Danielle, Kenzie and Ben that you can be.
Where do I want you to go in life?
How about the second star to the right... and straight on 'til morning...