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Zechariah’s Story

Zechariah will be a sophomore in college this fall at Johnson County Community College. He has been on Summer Staff at Youthfront Camp LaCygne for the past 4 years, and he was the Program Staff Assistant/Rock Wall & Nerf Supervisor this summer.

Q: If you could describe your faith in one word, how would you? How has Youthfront helped you in your faith journey?
A: I would say growth. Growing up in a Christian family, this was the first place that I was able to branch away from the family and figure out what my own faith was. It’s a complete disconnect from the family which means I get to explore what I believe; I don’t think I would put on a mask for my family, but I think just biologically, my perception of faith is affected when my family is around me.

Q: How does Youthfront help guide you through the noise of life?
A: Mainly because I know that after the semester, I get to be at Youthfront, and even when I’m working, it’s just not bad here; everything that I do I enjoy because it’s a different atmosphere. It’s really easy to get bored or tired at school and work, but it’s just not here. It’s the people mixed with the camp life; it’s just a constant human interaction. Me being a social butterfly, having new people walk up to me everyday is a sensory overload.

Q: Who are the biggest influences in your life outside of your parents? What are some of the biggest life lessons that they have taught you?
A: Micah Thomas, who was the previous director here, is probably one of the biggest. and then Jacob who is a summer staffer here and is married to Kelsey. Micah was probably the instigator of me being able to approach situations without a bias; we had an almost confession-style activity my first summer staffing here, where some of the staff would be here and we could come and just talk to them. I went to Micah regularly and it almost felt like a therapy. He taught me to approach situations without a bias, so that I don’t make decisions based on emotions or appearances. Then Jacob has just shown me a good sense of self-control and respect; I’ve looked up to him all of my summers staffing here. There’s a lot of situations at camp where he is much more able than the person who is leading him, but he answers to them as if they were higher than him because he understands that his position is where he needs to be, but he does it in a respectful way.

Q: Out of all of the summers that you have been here at Youthfront, what is your most memorable experience?
A: My first week, Jenny Evans headed to Wisconsin, and it was a buy-out which means we had around 280 people here, so It was a big week and I was in the kitchen. So she left that week, and I was terrified and realized how much the atmosphere of camp can change my work ethic. I just put my headphones on and started working, and by some miracle got all of the food cooked in time for everybody. That summer, we had something where anyone at camp would say something after evening gathering that they noticed in someone else that day. So then I had people comment on me that they thought it was interesting that I would put my headphones on and I would just start moving; some of them were almost kind of scared because it didn’t even look like I was operating—my eyes just kind of shut off and my headphones were in, and I just started moving really fast around the kitchen. In a normal setting, if I were at home, that would not be something that I would not only have the space to do, but I wouldn’t have that same work ethic if it weren’t for here. I feel like everyone works a lot harder here, but in good heart. They work hard because they know it’s right, not because they know it needs to get done. There’s a big difference; if you work hard just because it needs to get done, then you could tire yourself out; but they do it in good heart which actually uplifts them to do more work.

Q: What were you looking to get out of this experience at Youthfront when you first started working here?
A: Early staffing, it was just experience in my line of work; I thought that this would look really good on a resume, because I didn’t know Youthfront before that. I had no bias or angle of vision based on Youthfront, I just knew it was a summer camp and that they needed a cook—so I had no idea what Youthfront was about. So for me, my first summer going in, it was all about the experience. And then after my first summer, every summer since then has been because of the place—because of Youthfront. It had nothing to do with whatever job I was doing. Once I figured out what Youthfront was and what they were about, it changed drastically.

Q: What have you learned from Luke 15 this summer?
A: I love the work ethic in the verse. I love how they’re all told to go out, and basically do His will. I think that just going out and doing God’s will is different than going out and doing his will in good heart and in good faith, because there are countless people in the Bible that you can see are doing God’s will, but in sarcasm. This summer, one of my influences has been Connor Philgreen, our night watch. To give you some background on Connor, he would literally give you the clothes off of his back, and when I say literally, earlier this week Colton lost one of his shoes in the lake, so Connor gave him his shoes. This guy is the spiritual goal of my life. I feel like he relates to that verse so well, because he goes and he does God’s will in good heart. He never complains. Something else I have learned—my love language being words of affirmation—I always feel fantastic when someone gives me credit for something, not because I want to feel selfish and take that credit, but because it makes me feel better when someone tells me I’m doing a good job. Connor shows me that sometimes it’s good to do something good, for the sake of doing something good.

Zechariah Heintzelman, Program Staff Assistant/Rock Wall & Nerf Supervisor at Youthfront Camp LaCygne

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