You never know how you are going to impact a kid.
At one of our camps I was talking with a player entering his senior year of HS. He had never been to a bonfire, never slept in a tent, never held a fishing pole much less catch a fish, never swam in a pond, never heard of a smore, never saw the big dipper ... watching this kid experience camp was like watching my little kids on Christmas morning.
Well on his third cast he brings in the biggest bass I've seen caught in our little pond in 6 years. There are no coincidences!
The most important quote from him ... "I feel like I belong on this team. I've never had this. I mean ... I feel .. you know ... loved I guess."
We have a physical challenge called "Don't Quit". All the teams had finished, they had done an awesome job, they finished strong. One Senior yelled out, "This is for everybody who doesn't get this" and he kept going by himself. His teammates were welling up watching this guy. They were all exhausted but he was giving more. I had never seen that before. It was one proud moment. The look on Coach's face was worth the "sleepless" night on the cot.
Another one of his teammates at the commitment ceremony with tears in his eyes... "I'm going to commit to sacrificing anything for the good of this team. I mean, Coach, you just tell me, and I'll try my best, whatever ... I'll sacrifice."
Then there is the young man who is asked to speak in front of his team ... I think he would choose surgery first (smile). He had to go up 3 different times. I was so proud. His improvement was staggering. Give the kid some constructive criticism in a positive spirit, encourage and challenge him - they RISE to the occasion.
Another young man had the talent of always sounding so genuine when he spoke, that his heart was so vested in every word. We praised him for this. You could see his self-worth go through the roof. More beautiful? You could see his teammates loving the fact that his self-worth went through the roof.
A young man running up "The Hill" (quarter of a mile straight up) reaching the top totally spent and then turning around to help 2 of his teammates.
The power of a man speaking words of affirmation and genuine praise to a young man 1 on 1 looking at him square in the eye for something they know is real ... is worth more than any of us will truly realize.
I have a friend named Tim Gronotte who almost always helps out at the camps. A more generous man you will not find. Well he loves to fish. I think God has taken note. We wake up early one morning, we're greeted with an inspiring mist coming off the pond and a little while later Tim brings in "Dixie". What a morning - praying doesn't get any easier than this - the cool morning, the quiet, the mist, the beauty of nature.
We need these experiences. Food for the soul.