Just for a quick recap on how Young Life works in a practical, bureaucratic sense, I’ll explain what teams are and why they’re important. Young Life starts with hundreds of freshmen guys and girls for the first semester of college. Then, second semester, every guy and girl who elected to be a leader at a high school–not of their choosing–is assigned a high school. The higher-ups in Young Life put a lot of thought into where each person is assigned, and so rarely is someone put at a high school that will not affect them positively, or allow the leader to effectively do God’ work at that high school. In other words, at what high school you are placed is very important.
I was placed at Travis High School, along with my great friend and roomate Michael Tyler; the odds of us being placed together are astronomical, but it’s been a huge blessing. There were three guys added to Travis this year and five girls, but Callen dropped out, so Mike and I are the only new guys. The new girls are Carli, Hannah, Heather, Morgan, and Sarah. As “YL freshman,” we joined the Travis team that already had about ten people on it, and as we joined, the oldest in the ranks graduated and left the team, tearfully.
We are at Travis to help out the kids by listening to them, being constants in their lives, sharing hope through Jesus the Christ with them, and motivating and holding them accountable to someone who cares. The kids are our first priority. Our team members are our second priority. Our relationships with each other are incredibly important, because we help each other spiritually–because sometimes it’s hard and demoralizing having to soak up some of these kids’ hurt–and we help each other physically i.e. car rides for me and Mike.
There are only three other guys on the team outside of me and Mike: Tyler, Blake, and Steven. Blake and Tyler are only one year ahead of me and Mike, and are really kind of our mentors–Blake with me and Tyler with Mike. However, those boundaries have blessedly begun to crumble, although they were necessary at first. This team retreat we went on, and especially the time all the guys spent in the car together, was perfect bonding time, and I finally feel like the guys are all on the same page and all really tight with each other. We laugh at each other’s jokes, bring up funny stories of the past, and are lucky that our relationships are Christ-based, and therefore strong.
In the midst of all the craziness with school and YL really getting going, we decided to have a Team Retreat before things got impossibly hectic. Everyone on our team except for two people who couldn’t make it, drove to Boerne to stay at Carli’s parent’s amazing house. We drove up Friday afternoon after going to Travis one last time for the week. All the guys piled into a small pickup and we got after it. The ice that had been thawing at accelerated temperature finally left, and I now know that I love those guys so much more than before.
We got to Carli’s ranch house and we goofed around the whole night, playing karaoke, riding four-wheelers, hot-tubbing, eating tasty food, telling embarrassing stories, and generally doing things that sound boring but are awesome because I love my group members. The idea that we sleep as little as possible is a foundational idea for these retreats, and so the earliest people started going to bed was four in the morning. Most people were in bed by around five, but Mike and I decided that we wanted to stay up all night, cause that’s what we’d done at the last retreat, and we had done it at H.E.B. just a week ago.
Carli decided to stay up with us which was awesome cause she’s one of the funniest, most easy to talk to, Christ-like and kind girl in the world. She was a great host the whole time, and was busy the whole time making everything perfect for everyone, while snorting laughing all the while. She, Mike, and I stayed up outside (where it was really cold!) talking till about six a.m. I decided at that point that it wasn’t worth it because I was cold, and the memory of that sleepless night H.E.B. and how it ruined the following day wouldn’t leave my mind. I lumbered back inside the guest house and crashed on a couch, and then Carli basically tucked me in with a blanket, and it was the nicest thing someone has done for me in a while. Mike tried to stay up, but he made a critical mistake in that he sat down in the comfiest sofa in the house, warm in his jacket and corduroy pants, with a full belly and heavy eyes. He was doomed from the start and was asleep within twenty minutes.
We woke up at nine and went to eat a deliciously prepared breakfast. Fruit, biscuits, muffins, animal parts waited for us fresh in the kitchen while the people responsible for driving back loaded up on coffee. I did to cause I wanted to stay awake with Tyler as he drove cause I know it can be hard to be a bastion of alertness when all your crew is snoozing. Turns out on the way back that Steven stayed up, too, and we had some baller conversation.
I am growing to love my team so much, and I’m so blessed to be on Travis. There is real work to be done for kids who have real, unmistakable pain, and the leaders on my team are people who take their calls to help those kids very seriously. I’m glad I can look to them for examples, turn to them for guidance, and laugh with them at jokes. They made my whole freakin weekend, even if I’m bone-tired, ran an ultra-marathon, killed a wooly-mammoth, baby-sat for an entire country tired.