Of rodeos, carnivals, and Young Lives (in which I consider why we do what we do)

In the Young Life camping lexicon, tonight is traditionally called The Night That Never Ends.

In the Young Lives world, The Night That Never Ends does in fact end. Usually by about 10:30. Because, well, the babies.

But still – it is a very long day (though not the longest, for in the Young Lives camping lexicon we have something called The Day That Never Ends, aka SPA DAY which is exactly what it sounds like, so go ahead and be jealous).

Pulling off The Night That Never Ends week after week after week is A Thing Neither Quick Nor Easy. And more than once at least a few people are likely to wonder whether all the work is really worth it.

There are the gravelly rodeo paths to navigate with all those strollers:

Rodeo Road: Young Lives TWL 2014 (Photo: MEmerick)
Rodeo Road: Young Lives TWL 2014 (Photo: MEmerick)

There are all the costumes to gather and don:

Here there be cowboys: Young Lives TWL 2014 (Photo: MEmerick)
Here there be cowboys: Young Lives TWL 2014 (Photo: MEmerick)

And then there is a carnival to set up – in silence, in darkness, in 30 minutes flat – while campers are otherwise occupied:

Here there are party lights: Young Lives TWL 2014 (Photo: CKirgiss)
Here there are party lights: Young Lives TWL 2014 (Photo: CKirgiss)

And there is cotton candy to spin. And funnel cakes to dust with sugar. And ice-cream sundaes to scoop and serve. And during all of that, all those babies to be cared for and cuddled and loved and held.

I don’t suppose there is anyone who more deserves a personal rodeo and carnival than a group of young mothers who spend their days caring for a young human being who is entirely dependent upon them. Personal rodeos and carnivals aren’t come by just like that. You can’t order them online or download them as an app.

But here, there are rodeos. And costumes. And carnivals. And a whole lot of state-fair-type food.

And because of almost 100 childcare workers, there are several hours in this Night That Never Ends (But Really Does Because, You Know, The Babies) during which over 100 young mothers can laugh and play like children.

We believe rodeos and costumes and carnivals and state-fair food are worth every ounce of effort because they translate thus: All of this for you. And you are worth all of it. 

And it’s true: every young mama and baby here is worth every single ounce of energy and effort and love that is expended, and so much more than that. For just like everyone else that has ever lived, God knit each one of them together before they were born, he knew and loved them before they were conceived, and he came and died for them before they’d ever heard his name.

All of this crazy nonsense on The Night That Never (But Really Does) End is just a tiny overflow of something deeper, richer, wider, higher, and more magnificent than any one of us can ever truly understand. But if rodeos and costumes and carnivals and state-fair food that are presented with excellence and a joyful smile can reflect even just a sliver of that overflow, then we will have done today’s job well.

That is why we do what we do, and it’s an amazing why to be sure.

2 thoughts on “Of rodeos, carnivals, and Young Lives (in which I consider why we do what we do)

  1. Amy July 24, 2014 / 7:44 am

    I’ve gotta stop reading these at work – people are going to think I have a crying problem! Thank you, Crystal!

    • ckirgiss July 24, 2014 / 11:48 pm

      Oh, Amy – I know what you mean. Imagine how many tears are dripping here where we can see all of this playing out right in front of our eyes. It’s a blessing indeed, in spite of (or because of) the tears.

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