Why the Beach Trip?
Tomorrow morning, we will bring our teenagers home from Camp Grace. At which point, of course, the whole Blueprint 58 team will collapse from exhaustion and hopefully go out for margaritas. Camp can be hard, but we have learned from ten years of experience that getting kids out of their environment helps open up new opportunities for growth and learning and to push past barriers that stay raised (understandably) in their home neighborhood, where often survival and fist-fighting seem mandatory for survival.
After church on Sunday, we will leave with nine high school boys to take them to the beach. For us at Blueprint, this beach trip represents far more than a simple vacation. It is a chance to, once again, get the kids out of their environment. To expose them to new experiences, to watch them stick their toes in the salty ocean waves, perhaps for the first time ever. They will undoubtedly be afraid of sharks, complain about the sand, and require that I pack them three sandwiches apiece every day, minimum.
Next week is the culmination of a year of commitment. Of high-school boys who dragged themselves out of bed every single week to study the Bible (and eat breakfast, obviously). Who text us every Saturday to make sure we would pick them up for church on Sunday mornings. Who served at our fundraiser, and at camp this summer. Who played on our football team, and showed up (and even, occasionally, opened up) at Wednesday night Bible study at our church. Who loved our kids and grafted themselves into our family and community in mysterious beautiful ways.
In high school and college, my church youth group went on a beach retreat every year. Some of my most impactful memories from those formative years of my walk with Jesus grew from salty days and worship after dinner. My small group deepened our relationships with one another, and I learned I could trust my leaders enough to really open up. We dont want the boys to miss out on these kind of experiences because their parents cant afford to send them on a beach retreat. So we raise the money, and ask them to contribute a little bit themselves, because we believe firmly that God is going to show up this week. In laughter over Spikeball tournaments, in conversations across the dinner table, under umbrellas in the sand, and when we take the boys out for dinner and they order something they’ve never even heard of before.
I am praying for each of our boys that this week will solidify their own belovedness, that they will have the space to wrestle through what it looks like to follow Jesus in their school and neighborhood, what it could mean if they chose to fully walk out the Gospel in tangible ways. I am praying they will feel safe and loved, and that they can return refreshed and strengthened for the lives they continue to face with courage and humor, even when it gets hard. Thanks for joining us in praying for safety and fun, and for Jesus to make His presence known.