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Madi’s Story

Madi has spent 5 summers at Youthfront Camp LaCygne and she is the Sports Supervisor/Hype Girl this year. She will be a freshman at Mizzou this Fall studying Documentary Journalism and she took some time to share some of her story with us. 

Q: How did you find out about Youthfront?
A: My first year I camped I was going into my freshman year of high school so I was here at Camp LaCygne. The summer before, my friends were at West and told me that I would love this place and that I would fit in really well. They were right, I think I have—here I am, five years later!

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of Youthfront, and why have you kept coming back?
A: I love the community aspect. Being here every week, you get to know everyone so well. It turns into such a good balance, because if I’m maybe having a down day, I might not be able to realize it myself, but the people I’m around will be like, “Hey I’ve noticed that you’re a little different today. Do you want to talk about it?” And I won’t even realize that I need to talk about it. I just feel like I’m a happier person because of that; it just gears me up for when I have to go to school in the fall, where I have all of these good memories that I can go back and share with people.

Q: Can you describe your experience living amongst fellow Campers, Teen Staffers, and Summer Staffers?
A: I’m really glad I started off as a camper and then moved into Teen Staff, and now Summer Staffing because now that I’m on staff, I know what it’s like to be a camper and I know where the mindset is, and how to set a good example for the kids. Some of us Summer Staff were talking the other day, about how it’s easy to listen to whatever music and not really worry about the message, because we know where our hearts lie and where our values are; whereas when I was a freshman in high school, I know I was really confused about things. I think I’m well-equipped to set a really good example now, because I’ve gone through it all. Whether I’ve experienced things myself or not, I can at least relate because I’ve had friends who have gone through something, so I can help out the campers who are coming through. I’m so happy that we have all ages here now.

Q: What would you advertise about Youthfront to people who have never been here before?
A: I would say it’s a really healthy balance between growing in Christ and having fun while doing it; I feel like a lot of people who don’t really know much about the Christian faith, they look on it as just sitting there and praying all day, very straightforward and black and white. But that’s not the case…it’s having fun, it’s growing in relationship with others, and living together and thriving in this beautiful world that we have. And so I would say that Youthfront is the place to go. Campers are here for a week or half a week, and it’s just beautiful to see the campers come in as kind of timid and nervous and then at the very last worship, sing with their arms out open because their eyes and their soul have been opened to the Lord. My favorite thing is watching the very first and the very last worship, because you get to see the comparison—it’s so beautiful. And watching the kids watch the staff get into worship and then they realize that they can do that too!

Q: How has Youthfront helped you grow in your faith journey?
A: I really have grown well here, because I used to think I only had one option and one path, but I know that there’s more to it than that; it’s not just black and white, but it’s a beautiful picture of what Jesus and God is and what He shows to us. My mind and my heart have been opened up so much here, and I’m really thankful for that. Gearing up to go to college, I’m really excited to share the things that Youthfront has taught me; like when you go on a trip, and you pack your backpack, you make sure you have more than enough that you need…I feel like Youthfront does that very well before you go off to the school year.

Q: Can you describe a specific memory you have of campers encountering God while at Youthfront? Have you ever had that experience yourself?
A: I was shadowing at West one summer, and one of the LaCygne cabin leaders was there too, and I was just sitting in the back, observing like I was supposed to be; then they were doing the worship and the LaCygne cabin leader’s cabin was in the very back so I could see them. The cabin leader was really into the worship and had his eyes closed, so he had no idea that his campers were watching him. There were these boys right next to him, and one of them kept looking up at him, and slowly he started putting his arms out; by the end of the worship, his arms were out and then the kids next to him had their arms out. I went up to the cabin leader later and said, “Hey, I know you didn’t see this because you had your eyes closed during worship, but you were setting such a good example for these kids.” It still brings a smile to my face, and I am so glad I had my eyes open to see that.
And then my own story was towards the end of my first summer here; I had camped week one, and then came back every single week as a volunteer. It was the first time that I think I had actually accepted Christ in my life; even though I grew up in a church, I was just exposed to a whole new light. We were at a campfire doing worship one night, and I can remember sitting there. It was one of my favorite songs but I stopped singing, and I just looked around and saw the glow of peoples faces from the fire. I remember I looked up at the stars and back down and then it was the first time I had stood up and just opened up my arms to the Lord; I had never done that before during worship, because I am a shy person. It was a really big moment, because I’ve had many memories here, but that’s one that will always stick with me.

Madi Heck, Sports Supervisor at Youthfront Camp LaCygne

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