Arylle Rademacher: Raking pine cones, picking weeds was worth it |

Arylle Rademacher: Raking pine cones, picking weeds was worth it

— Most kids my age would never think about giving up three weeks of their summer to go volunteer for anything, but recently, I took that chance. I spent three weeks at a Young Life camp called Quaker Ridge working for free serving middle school students and Jesus Christ.

The first day I arrived, I thought it was going to be a relaxing day getting to know everyone and just hanging out, but after we ate lunch, I was proven wrong.

After introductions, I went outside to rake pinecones and pick weeds. When we were finished, my attitude was so bad, I was ready to go home. The next day we had to continue raking and picking weeks. I’d about had it, but around 2 p.m., the first group of campers arrived. There was so much energy, every thought I had about going home was gone. All the kids were so excited to be there, and I knew the next three weeks would be amazing.

Nine other girls and I were servers in the dining hall. We set anywhere between 18 and 22 tables before every meal, brought food to the tables and made sure that they always had refills. After the meal, we had to clean off all the tables and wipe them down. After cleaning, we would reset for the next meal, and sometimes we would have about 30 minutes for a brake.

A couple of the challenges for me were finding patience and the long days. I have a hard time working together with a group of girls for a long period of time. So I had to learn to get along, or it would have been miserable. Our days were about 13 hours of work or more. After about the first week, we were all starting to get very tired. With the power of God, we made it with extra strength at the end.

The most rewarding thing about this camp was the transformation of the campers. At the start of the week, the kids were hard and would never let anyone in their lives. By day three, they realized that it was OK to let people in, or at least God. At the end of the week, the day the kids were leaving, they had a chance to put a heart on the cross representing that they had accepted Christ into their lives. To see all the kids that did open up to God was so amazing because in some way, I had a part in some of their transformations. I cried at the end of every camp.

Before I went to this camp, I questioned God a lot. When I got there, I could feel a difference right away. While I was there, I learned how to pray better. It was comforting to me to learn to talk to Jesus. I have been through things in my life, and with some of those things, I was able to help some of the kids I met. It is the most amazing feeling and time I have had in a long time.

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