The very first day this girl, Anna, came in with all this anxiety. She wanted to leave. She said it was too much for her. The band was really loud and there were a lot of people around, so I was like “hey let’s go for a walk around the building.” I wanted to show her what the camp had ready for her. But even outside the music was blaring and all these water things were set up. Finally, we find a quieter space and I asked her about her anxiety. She said “I think maybe some of it is when my grandma died we had her funeral here” so I started asking her about her grandma. Anna began to relax as she spoke.
“Hey I think honoring your grandma would be celebrating her life here today.” I go “how about this, the beginning part is only going to be about 20 minutes, but the rest of the camp is going to be different. So just try it out. See it’s a lot calmer now, they’re probably doing the Real Talk* now. There is nothing you have to do here, don’t feel like you’re forced to do anything here. Just come find me.” She went and sat down and seemed good during Real Talk.
At the end of the day when the band came back on, and everyone was dancing and getting all riled up, I started looking for Anna. As I walked down the aisle I spotted her dancing all over the place with her hands up and thought “She’s good now.” Praise God she got through that moment.
*Real Talk is a time at camp where a panel of believers answer questions about how God has impacted certain areas of their lives.
Addie struggles with extreme anxiety and self-doubt. We talked about it every day at Day Camp and I told her “You are going to overcome this.” We wrestled with her anxiety together until Thursday. That afternoon, Cap shared the Gospel followed by a quiet time for each kiddo to write a letter to Jesus. Later, when we gathered for our small group, Addie just started crying.
“This is the first time I’ve felt peace. I feel like I can function. I can feel God’s presence all over me. I don’t feel alone or afraid”
“There still might be times when you feel anxiety” I replied, not wanting her to feel like this was a false Gospel, a one-time mountain-top moment.
She came back the next day trembling with anxiety. “Ms JoAnne, how can I pray to calm myself down”
“Just say ‘Lord, I don’t have the strength to handle this right now.’” We prayed together. It was a beautiful thing to watch Jesus set that girl free the rest of the day.
About a month later, I met Addie and a few other girls for lunch. As we talked, Addie described the peace she still carried with her. She was so excited to hang out with other girls her age and no longer felt crippling social anxiety. She even asked when we would do this again. It is such an honor to watch Christ transform youth right before my eyes.