(Originally emailed 8/9/2022)

I have previously referred to a new role we had this summer working with a group of our summer staff. We were the coordinators for the YAPS program. As I’ve mentioned before, YAPS stands for Young Adult Program Staff. The group is made up of mostly high school graduates who come to serve in a variety of jobs that are needed to keep camp running. They run archery and riflery ranges, help in the kitchen, work at the waterfront, run the camp store and handcrafts area, take pictures and videos, work at the zipline, and do laundry. Besides their main job, they do countless other jobs like sort mail, help at Ambush (the all-camp evening game), run sound in chapel, host camper arrivals on Monday before the buses arrive, and on and on. 

After reviewing applications and interviewing applicants through the winter and spring, we welcomed around 35 young men and women throughout the summer. They came for a couple of weeks, the whole summer, or anywhere in between. It has been a great experience working with all of them, but also a large learning curve! We prepared the best we could and we continued learning on the job as the summer got going. We were beyond thankful to have a summer staff leader helping us, Mercy Olson. She was what we call a YAPS PA, or Personnel Assistant. It was a great provision for us during our first year in this role that we had an organizational guru for our YAPS PA! She made our jobs infinitely easier by handling her tasks so well. She even did work to improve the program next year and make the job easier for whoever fills her role next year. 

So, what did we do on a weekly basis? We continually scheduled and rescheduled the YAPS into their main jobs, which is a bit like aiming at a moving target. Just about the time we would get it all set and feel accomplished, something would change and we’d be back shuffling and figuring again. We helped run, and then mostly just attended and oversaw, the couple of weekly meetings for the YAPS. Jim ran the Bible study one evening for the boy YAPS, Mercy ran the study for the girl YAPS, I just attended when I wasn’t playing piano in chapel at the same time. We hosted them nearly every Friday night in our home after the combined chapel, not gathering until 9:15. That was a fun opportunity to just have them over for some form of fun; watching a movie, building a fire and making s’mores, or playing a game. Squeeze a bunch of hard-worked young people into a small living room, feed them popcorn or cookies or brownies, and you’ve got some appreciative people who just like to relax, laugh, and spend some downtime together. We were glad to be able to do that each week. In between these things, add in a couple more meetings with the personnel committee to make sure we are all on the same page, and that kept us plenty busy around our other camp responsibilities. 

We have learned a lot this summer about the YAPS program. We look forward to sort of debriefing this fall to go over what went well and what should go better. We know a lot more now than we did at the beginning of the summer. And yet, Mercy is the true master of allll the details, so if we continue in the same role next year I feel like there is still more for us to learn. There is no doubt it is a program with MANY details and moving parts. 

Throughout the summer I repeatedly turned to a book of prayers and liturgies to use with the YAPS as encouragements. It became our routine frequently at our Monday night meeting that Mercy would expertly cover all the details with them from the weekly schedule to their cleaning chores to any last minute changes. We would often share highs and lows from the previous week. And then I would end the meeting with a reading, often from the book Every Moment Holy. At first I felt like I was sort of this weird end to the meeting that everyone sort of tolerated. But then the more I read each week, I began to get questions afterward about what book it was or if they could get a copy of part of it. I think my favorite was one week when talking to one YAP afterwards, I got compared to green beans. It was the part that they sort of listened to because they knew it was good, but then learned to like it the more they had it. I thought that was fantastic and I was more than happy to be the green beans of the YAP meeting! Here is a small excerpt that I read early in the summer. It represents well the types of things we sought to teach them through their time serving in the YAPS program. 

”Teach me to shepherd the small duties
of this day with great love,
tending faithfully those tasks
you place within my care
and tending with patience and
kindness the needs and hearts of
those people you place within my reach. 

Nothing is too hard for you, Lord Christ. 
I deposit now all confidence in you
that whatever these waking hours bring,
my foundations will not be shaken. 

At day’s end I will lay me down again to sleep
Knowing that my best hope is well kept in you. 

In all things your grace will sustain me. 
Bid me follow,
and I will follow.”

Rachel, for the Bennetts

A team building activity we did with the YAPS during workshop. 
One of our Monday night YAPS meetings
The week we had the most YAPS of the whole summer was the first week we had them out to our house on a Friday night. It was one crowded living room!