i’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of different kinds of people throughout my career herding cats…some good and some bad–but, my good friend, kt, was…hands down…one of the best youth workers i ever worked with…kt is short for katie (christensen)…

we connected at luther heights bible camp in the summer of 1995 and worked closely together for four summers there…at the time, she was the camp program director (the position directly under the camp pastor–who you all know now as big e)…some of my best memories from camp surround the times when big e, kt and i worked together during those days…especially so, in the springs/summers of 1997 and 1998 when kt and i had the chance to work closely with big e in 1) preparing/planning for the upcoming summer programs and 2) sharing responsibility for some key parts of staff training (during this time new/returning staff members would participate in a 2-week training…where they were schooled in the fine art of camp counseling…

reflecting back, i think that the time was so special was because we were all on the same page–we all had similar passions, work styles/ethics, faith perspectives…and importantly…we all had the same philosophy and approach about working with kids…what it meant for us…and ultimately, what it could mean for campers for the summer and beyond…

one year, before staff training began, we actually wrote down our philosophy about working with kids–it was something that we also passed on to the counseling staff during training and something we tried to live out during the summers…it’s even something that i think about in my work with kids today…

here’s what we put down on paper:

camp counselor philosophy and focus

1 – put the KIDS first

  • keep it safe (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) , keep it fun (kids will be bored sometimes and that’s o.k.–but, do what you can to keep a positive attitude–for you and for the kids you work with), and don’t forget God (there’s something more going on here than just what you’re doing)

[safe, fun, and God were dubbed the big three]

2 – be a POSITIVE role model

  • lead by example–children/youth remember more of what you do and less of what you say
  • play the ‘put up game’ vs. the put down game (westering, 1990)–affirm, appreciate, compliment and encourage their legitimate achievements and victories…do not give empty praise…

i know that kt still uses this philosophy and focus in her work with youth and families as a congregational minister today–more importantly, it is something that emanates from her…if you’re around her, you can’t help but feel it–her enthusiasm, her commitment, her faith, her love for youth and families…it is unstoppable and contagious…because it’s the real thing…let me put it this way, she has been doing this kind of work in churches for nearly 20 years–and she’s still fired-up about it–that’s not something you see every day!

so, if you’re a parent or teenager or child…and you’re looking for a high quality church youth and family program…and you happen to live up near Alexandria, MN…you should check out the church she just started working at (calvary lutheran) as the director of congregational ministry for youth and families…introduce yourself and have your kids meet her…you’ll see what i’m talking about…furthermore, if you’re a wannabe youth worker…it would do you well to intern with her there, to walk alongside her for a while…she will school you…and you’ll be better for it…

because when it comes to church youth workers…she’s the best of the best

cheers, my friend!

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