This past weekend, I had the opportunity to be a small group leader at a sixth grade church retreat known as Boot Camp. My group consisted of two adult co-leaders, myself, and twenty sixth grade girls. Though I hope I was able to shine some light into those girls’ lives, they taught me so much this weekend. My girls have something special: in their wisdom, in their passion, in the way they love one another. It’s no surprise that this amazing group showed me so much while the love of God was shown to all of us.
Here are some things I learned from middle schoolers this weekend:
- The best dance moves are ones done with friends but without regard to what others might think. (Our group danced on chairs during mealtimes to “Shower” and T-Swizzle’s new song “Shake It Off,” and though I am not a skilled dancer, I just let go and had a blast.)
- The best songs are the ones you sing at the top of your longs surrounded by people you love.
- There are no bad questions. My girls asked deep, hard, honest questions, and it made me realize that there’s no need to be ashamed about not knowing something. Whenever I don’t understand something, I try to bury and hide that feeling as much as possible. I need to learn to embrace it, because life is a learning experience.
- Don’t be afraid of being attached to people. If any of my girls wanted to hug me, they did. If they wanted to be goofballs around me, they did. If they wanted to open up to me about the difficulties in their lives, they did. Being attached to people makes us feel vulnerable, so we close ourselves off. But being attached is also the only way to friendship, and these middle schoolers reminded me that true relationships are worth the risk.
- The only thing that is truly lame is thinking that other things are lame. Middle schoolers are unironic screamers, enthusiastic worshipers, energetic as they do their thing. When do we lose that? Because I can tell you that’s not what most high schoolers look like. We suffer from so much cynicism and derision, thinking that loving something isn’t the cool thing to do. When and why did that happen? My biggest takeaway from my amazing group of girls was that we need to shine our unique little light as bright as we can, without stopping to care if it’s too bright for others.
I love that while I was trying to give some wisdom to these girls, God used them to teach me about being Godfident in who He’s made me to be. That’s a lesson I’m continually learning, and I’m so grateful that Boot Camp was a part of it.