Yep. That's right. It was nothing like what I had expected. It was BETTER. I had the privilege of being asked to speak to 130 young women age 12-18 at their annual Young Women's Girls Camp this week. This is a time when the girls get to go camping for 5 days, each summer, with the peers in their church within their community, and are able to bond with one another, while at the same time, learn valuable skills of survival in the outdoors, as well as draw closer to their Heavenly Father while basking in the creation of this beautiful planet. They are also able to have leadership responsibilities as well as opportunities to be an example to each other of Christ-like living. It really is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn and grow and define who they are. And what they are, is amazing. I witnessed that first hand.
I was asked to speak on a particular subject, in what is called "Destiny" where the girls, in small groups at a time, come to hear words of inspiration on many different facets of life. This particular time usually takes place in a secluded part of "camp" where they can be within nature and hopefully feel the presence of their Heavenly Father whispering to them that they truly are Daughter's of God who hold such potential in this increasingly difficult world to grow up in. The topic I was assigned to speak on was, "True Strength Comes As We Oppose Wickedness and Stand For Truth And Righteousness." I was given this subject several months in advance, so I had plenty of time to ponder the subject and research, and pray for guidance on how to, hopefully, inspire the girls to stand strong in this ever-shifting of values world that we live in. I had a few concerns though..... I don't have teenage daughters, and haven't really been associated with too many of them for years. Where I serve in our church is with the children age 3-11, so I felt a little out of touch, and worried that I would not be able to understand fully how to relate to these girls. I also had not attended girls camp for 26 years, and when I did attend, as a young teenager, there wasn't anything like "Destiny", so I was unfamiliar with how it went, and knew that the majority of these girls had been to them before and would probably have expectations that I was afraid I could not meet.
Funny thing though, about inspiration; if you follow it, you will be guided on how to approach them and relate. And that's exactly what happened.
I am a reader. I LOOOOVE to read. I gathered the majority of my information from books I had read that had many experiences I could relate to the girls that I had hoped they could grasp on to. Another thing I love to do.... sing! I love singing. I found a song that went perfectly with the topic, and although I found the instrumental music for it, had memorized it, and was excited about its message, I was afraid my nerves would get the best of me. No matter how many times I sing, I still get very nervous. I decided to let the spirit guide me to let me know if I should sing it, or let the song be sung by its artist. I am glad I listened to the spirit confirm to me that I needed to sing it.
What usually happens to me, when preparing to speak or give a lesson to the children, youth, or adults, is that when I am preparing the topic, I am the one that is learning the most. It seems to have been for my benefit more than for the listeners. This was no different in preparing the assigned topic for these girls. What I learned from these young ladies is far more than anything I could have related to them. They are MY inspiration, and as a mother of two young daughters, it gives me hope for their future.
What DID I learn? I learned that.....
* These girls are hungry for knowledge
* They WANT to feel the spirit
* They are smart
* They are (for the most part) very polite, very grateful, very kind to their peers
* They WANT to do what is right
* They want to be leaders, to be an example
* They want examples to learn from
* I need to be more like THEM
This generation of youth are fighting a much harder battle than I did. The temptations that come their way are increasingly more deceptive, more enticing. One of the things I touched upon in my talk was defining the "Beautiful Wickedness" as described by the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz. When the witch was melting she exclaimed to, and about Dorothy.... "Oh what a world, what a world. Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy all my beautiful wickedness!" The girls defined the things that are beautifully wicked in ways I had not even considered. I have hope! I'm not as worried anymore as I used to be. These girls, our youth HAVE to be stronger these days, and they ARE. They have been poised to become so.
When I saw the posters in the girls' locker room at the local middle school that read, "Stand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone" I was shocked. I never expected to see such a declaration in our public schools. But I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled to know there are youth out there willing to take a stand, even if they have to do it alone. I am more confident than ever, that our youth WILL make it. And what a blessing it was for ME, to have witnessed a little bit of that, by attending one day at Girls Camp.