What Teenagers Taught Me (Newspaper 7-2-16)

I was very impressed this past week.  If you read the last article I submitted, you will remember that I was one of the dean’s for Youth Camp at Guadalupe Christian Camp this past week.  There is so much negativity going around about the younger generations these days, and I will admit that I have fallen in to this category at times as well.  There are many things that are blamed for the actions and sometimes total lack of respect shown by teenagers today, but I discovered something that opened my eyes to a possible solution.

This past week I was reminded that there is a lot of hope for our future generations, on multiple occasions.  The week started off a little on the rough side, with some of the campers not listening to directions and purposefully cheating at some of the group activities that we had planned as team building exercises.  I was not sure what was going to happen by the end of the week, especially if things kept going the way they were. 

On Wednesday morning, though, two of the adults, took a few minutes during breakfast just to remind the campers that they needed to listen and treat each other and the adults there with respect.  We reminded them that we were going to be serving at a nursing home on Thursday, and that they needed to act with the utmost respect while there.  It seems that the talk that morning had a great impact.  We really did not see any lack or respect or lack of listening the rest of the week.  In fact, the way the campers carried themselves the rest of the week gave me great hope for the future. 

I saw teens step out of their comfort zones and spend time with the residents of one of Carlsbad’s nursing homes.  We even did a service project there, and some of the teens came back to me asking if they could go tell some of the residents good-bye before we left to hang out at the beach area.  There was a camper that even brought a verse from Leviticus 19:32 to my attention, so that we could share that with all the campers before leaving for the nursing home.  The verse reads, “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.”  There was also a group that got a flat tire on the way home, and was stranded at the McDonald’s in Artesia for around 3 hours.  My wife and I were able to go back and help take kids from the side of the road to McDonalds so they were out of the heat while their van got fixed.  Not once did I hear anyone complain about the circumstances.  In fact, they sat and played games the whole time, just going with the flow until the tire was replaced and they were able to get back on the road. 

I realized one big thing this past week through all of this; teenagers have the potential to surprise us, they just need a little guidance.  If we hold them to a higher standard, and ask them to act with composure and respect, they will.  But if we expect them to act disrespectful and to not listen, then they will live up to those expectations as well.  We need to treat them with respect and expect them to do the same, and guess what, you just might be surprised at the end results.

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