Hi there, Melissa Lee here to share with you a time I have failed in youth ministry. I am all for vulnerability but I have to admit it took me awhile to come up with something for this post. Most of my youth leader failures are times that I truly, truly failed and it would be unkind to my youth friends to share. Have you been there?

I would say my one of my biggest struggles is asking for help. I was gonna say that all in past tense, but I’m just gonna be honest, I still very much struggle with this. I have a lot of funny stories that go with this theme. My all time favorite, though, is from Puke Camp.

Yeah, you read that right.

Youth group camp stories are literally my favorite and I have quite a few in my back pocket. I like to bring these out at dinner parties and family gatherings. Puke Camp really is the best/worst one; and a personal low for me. I was neck deep in living the lie of “I can do it all and not break a sweat.”

Puke camp started like most puke camps do, with sick youth leaders the week before we left. We had youth group Wednesday night and Aaron unknowingly infected all our youth. What were we supposed to do? Stay home? Cancel camp? Yes, probably. But that is not what we did. We forged on. Aaron with a Pepsi in hand to help with the nausea.

To make things even more interesting Aaron and I brought our two daughters to camp that year. Zula and Effi were 2.5 and 8 months old. Aaron and I were also leading worship for camp the whole weekend. (I know, I know, hindsight is 20/20).

Halfway through camp we had about 10 vomiting youth (sleeping in tents). Can you imagine being a teen and vomiting in front of your friends; being away from home and being “cared” for by youth leaders? It was rough, guys, real rough.

The lowest point for me was when I was trying to get the girls to bed (in a tent), while Aaron was leading worship. I knew I had to lead a song soon, so I literally ran from our tent to lead that song then ran back to check on the girls.

It usually takes extreme moments like this for me to think, “hmmm… this is not working.” I realized that I needed help, badly.  

This was the last camp we didn’t bring a nanny with us (best decision I’ve ever made). It was also the last camp we were the only worship leaders and the last camp I ate out of a shared chip bag. Germs!

Despite the puking it was a successful camp. One of our youth accepted Jesus, lead by her friends. I stumbled upon them praying and crying; it was so so beautiful.

In the end we figured that about 75% of people at camp got sick. Most of them after they got home, Praise the Lord.

Melissa Lee
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