Somewhere not too far from here people are trying to decide what to do with their summer. Maybe you or your kids are one of these people?
Recently we had the opportunity to share about Coldwater summer programs with a local youth group. We ended up giving the students this challenge: “Don’t waste your summer!”
Many young people, especially in high school and university, feel the need to spend summers around friends, making money, or hanging out with family. None of these things are bad, but the summers of high school and university have the potential to be some of the most formative summers of your life, and they seem to slip away before you can even blink. It is too easy to go through them without any forward movement in your life, experiencing “the grind” before you even need to. There will always be summers of family, friends and of making money, but the formative summers of high school and university are limited.
So, here are five reasons to inspire you to encourage your youth or young adult to make the most of their summer, hopefully through a program with Coldwater:
1. Tech Free. Let’s face it, many of us need to put the phone down, have a face to face conversation, and look at the world around us. Screens go everywhere with us these days…from school to work to home, and yes even to the bathroom. While helpful tools, they can prevent real relationships from being formed. One of the perks about wilderness programs with Coldwater is that there is not much cell service. People have to have face to face conversations. Participants get to see, taste and smell beautiful vistas rather than looking at them through a screen. It is fresh, and it is real.
2. Self-Discovery. Probably the #1 question young people are asking is “Who Am I?”. Everyone around them seems to have an answer to the question, from their friends, to schools, to the government, to the church. God has crafted each person wonderfully and uniquely. I love the words of Psalm 139: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it.”
Summers are a time where young people can discover and embrace the unique person God has made them and to discover this in a healthy space where there are godly leaders, biblical teaching, where there are opportunities to try different leadership roles, where there is challenge that reveals deeper depth, and where there is intentional and supportive community. Can you imagine if instead of searching for the answer to “Who Am I?” in the world around them, young people could instead say “Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”
3. Undistracted Time with God. Shortly after one of the first Coldwater Canada trips years ago, I had a dad come up to me and share that on his son’s trip, he sat and read his Bible for the first time, even though he had grown up in the church. Could this breakthrough have happened somewhere else? Sure, but I think a huge reason for it was the undistracted time in creation with God. Coldwater builds pauses into each day where students can sit on a rocky shoreline with a Bible, journal and a hot drink, for about five minutes with younger students to multiple hours for older groups. God is always present, but often we can miss it because we don’t push pause.
4. Life Skills. Parents; how different would things be at home if your young person cooked, cleaned, packed up their stuff, if they saw things through to completion, if they got up early (without you getting them out of bed), if they navigated conflict healthily, and if they communicated? Maybe this is your reality, but for many it is not. With all of our participants we want to see them mature and grow. We teach life skills, mainly because they can learn valuable insights about themselves, but also because skills like cooking, cleaning, and packing up sure are transferable!
5. Challenge. A wise professor of mine once said that man is at his best as a problem solver. The times we have to problem solve are when we are facing challenge, so therefore, in challenge we can be at our best. If you look at the most formative times in your life, it probably wasn’t when you were relaxing on a sandy beach, but rather when you were in a challenging situation. Deep down we know that challenge forms and shapes, and that in times of challenge, we can develop the grit we need to live well. Challenge brings out gifts, it can reveal strengths, and even mistakes through challenge can lead to lifelong learning. Deep down, I would argue that we know this.
The reality though is that we structure our lives to isolate ourselves from challenge. Many people don’t like discomfort, and we protect ourselves, and especially young people, from consequence.
Grit is often the determining factor in people who reach their full potential, and challenge develops grit. We need to give young people more healthy opportunities to develop grit, and so we need a little more challenge.
To close, what is holding you back from making the most of this summer?