Danielle Bender, Tacoma YFC

Alongside the youth we bring to YFC Camp to experience the fun and adventure of being a camper, we bring a team called “Project Serve” to spend the week cleaning, prepping, and doing all the “behind the scenes” work that makes YFC Camp run.

This year I led Project Serve at Black Diamond camp and got to work alongside one of our youth, Kaydence. When I first met Kaydence, she was a really sweet, slightly awkward middle school student who could have a huge attitude. Over the years, I’ve been her cabin leader, her Project Serve leader, and walked beside her through our Student Leadership and Leaders In Training programs. But I had never seen her let herself just be who she is in the way I did at camp this year.

I knew that Kaydence had been working at a restaurant and had worked hard to get accepted into UW, but just watching her that week it dawned on me how much she had grown up–a bittersweet moment. She got her work done without complaining and led by example. Always where she needed to be, she helped other teams and encouraged her peers to do the same. Although I was relieved I had a team member who helped get the others to work hard, it also meant that the attitude-filled middle schooler was gone.

The first to cannonball into the pool, excited to go onstage with other Project Serve members and lip sync in front of everyone, and dancing and letting herself have fun while cleaning the dining hall–I was overwhelmed with joy multiple times when I saw her fully own her goofy side.

God is so cool to bring our students further than we even hope or dream.

I didn’t expect God to show up in this way through Kaydence, but her confidence and comfort in leading not only through her work ethic but just by being herself were exactly what He wanted to show off. Kaydence is a leader and it makes sense that God would use everything about her for his Kingdom.

*Teen name and image have been changed.