Swiftwater Journey

faith, culture, and growing up in a rapidly changing world

Swiftwater Journey | a workbook April 26, 2016

Filed under: Adolescence,Parenting,Youth Ministry — billmacphee @ 4:22 pm

iStock_000008266776Small 236 89This workbook is offered to you as a helpful follow up to my teaching on parenting and adolescence . It is for all parents of adolescents and other caring adults as we embrace and nurture our children along a healthy pathway to adulthood.

I want this resource to be a helpful guide for you in implementing your own action plan for loving your teenager in a way that helps them move toward capable and mature interdependence as an adult. Thanks to Dr. Chap Clark, friend and mentor, and author of recommended books.

Swiftwater Journey Parenting Follow up Workbook

 

11 Tips for Parents – Welcoming Your Teenager Home From Camp February 18, 2013

Filed under: Parenting,Uncategorized,Youth Ministry — billmacphee @ 1:25 pm
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Our family enjoyed the privilege of sending our daughter off to camp this long weekend, and we are preparing to welcome her home. While it has been a great couples weekend, it will be fun to hear the life-change stories emerging out of camp.

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We often spend much time preparing for camp, and praying for our children while they are away at camp. But some of the best fruit from camp can be cultivated best by parents after camp.

Here are some simple tips on helping your son or daughter return home from camp well. My suggestion is that you pay attention and pick and choose from this list as you seek to maximize the positive spiritual impact of this outstanding journey at camp.

  1. Listen attentively. It is inevitable your son or daughter will return home tired. For some the fatigue makes them excited and talkative, for others it leads to grumpiness and silence. Be sensitive to trying to drag out too much information on the ride home. Pace the feedback. The next best activity for your son or daughter may be rest.
  1. Filter your questions. Let your student guide the conversation. Pay attention to what they are saying, and also to what they are not saying. Look and listen for a few key nuggets.
  1. Offer them their favorite meal. Though camp food might be good [or it might not], your child is likely longing for something to eat that is familiar and substantial. A meal is a great place for the family to listen to their stories.
  1. Temper your expectations. Parents may be hoping for a significant life change, but it’s likely not to show up all at once. Try not to communicate unrealistic expectations about spiritual life change, but rather applaud any movement toward spiritual sensitivity and growth. Ask in your own words, “What do you think God was teaching you at camp?”
  1. Remember the [pre] adolescent journey. By definition, pre-teens and adolescents are very self-focused and most of their experience at camp will be defined through the filter of “me.” Use this as an opportunity to affirm their journey of self-discovery and the unique identity you sense God is helping them grasp. Avoid exasperating [Ephesians 6:4] them with a sharp critique of their “selfishness.”
  1. Ask about friends. It is almost impossible for a developing adolescent to separate their relationship with God from their relationship with friends. Teenagers grow in Christ in groups. Who did you hang out with? Did you make any new friends? When will you see them again? It is likely there will also be some drama between friends to report. Hopefully you can guide them to not let this push them away from friends or the group. Or maybe you may walk them through changing friends due to new spiritual convictions gained at camp. If you have a high school student they will most likely want to go hang out with camp friends as soon as possible.
  1. Look at pictures. Having your son or daughter show you their pictures, even if just the big camp photo, is a great way for them to share their memories and experiences. Have them point out friends and adult leaders they enjoyed.
  1. Explore themes. Ask your son or daughter to tell you what the speaker, cabin times, and devotions were about. Keep it simple and look for or guide them into articulating one key lesson they grabbed from the week. Gently guide them to express a couple ideas they might want to act on in practical ways in the coming weeks. Ask what they want to change as a result of being at camp [in their relationships, in their family, in their beliefs, in their habits]. Don’t pry too much since these changes may be something they would rather share with their friends, small group, or other adult leaders.
  1. Affirm your support. Be very positive about their experience at camp and affirm your ongoing support of their relationship with God. This time at camp can be powerful but it is also one smaller part of a bigger and longer journey in their emotional, physical and spiritual development. Your child needs a fan that is cheering them on as they grow up.
  1. Keep them connected. An experience at camp is often times a launching pad for new friendships within the youth group at church. Maximize the partnership between you as a parent and the youth group leadership. Be sure to find a way to thank your child’s cabin leader. Do the extra work to help them get to a weekend worship gathering and the next meeting of the youth group. For those with a Junior High or High School student, encourage getting plugged into a smaller discipleship group. The older your student gets the more strategic support from the church gets.
  1. Model an intimate relationship of trust with Jesus. Your [pre] adolescent is looking to see what a relationship with Jesus looks like. They possess a keen radar system that sniffs out hypocrisy. They will be looking to see if you have an honest faith that trusts Jesus with daily life. Be the kind of person you want your child to become. Model love and grace, an intimate relationship with God, involvement with other believers, and a servant lifestyle.

What additional tips would you add from your experience as a parent?

 

Jesus walked on my campus November 26, 2011

I fell off a 70 foot cliff while serving as a volunteer in a mountaineering class at San Carlos High School. I’ve decided to celebrate the friends who saved my life by writing some posts about the experience. I do not pass a single day without reflecting on November 16, 1981 and the courage it took for my friends to make decisions and take action that spared my life.

You can read part one here: the best job I could imagine – November 16, 1981. You can read all posts related to my mountaineering accident by searching the Categories for Accident.

 

Part Two: Jesus Walked on My Campus … and his name was John.

In addition to teaching outdoor skills to students, John Woodhall served as the head football coach at the San Carlos High School. John is by nature a gentle man, but demonstrated his capacity for strong leadership at practice and on the sidelines. Though he rarely raised his voice, he could get a linebacker’s attention when needed. John was strong, focused, disciplined, and deeply loved his students. His strength and care emerged out of a heart deeply transformed by the grace and compassion of Jesus Christ. I am not exaggerating when I say that John seemed to me to be the embodiment of Jesus walking about his campus. Kids loved and flocked to him. Students wanted to be near him and touch him. John made himself freely accessible to kids–all kind of kids. This is what set John Woodhall apart. He loved and cared for all kinds of students. Not just the strong athletes, or the Christian kids who mirrored his spiritual values. Every person found it possible to easily slide into his span of gentle care. This was especially true of the kids who desperately needed a mountaineering class to keep them engaged in the relentless and unforgiving grind of public high school.

I met John through the Student Ministries family at Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, CA. The church has a long legacy of quality leaders in ministry to adolescents, including not only professional staff, but maybe more importantly, gifted and called volunteers. I tried to be sensitive to John’s schedule–as a teacher/coach his life was full. Add his deep commitment to his family and it continued to amaze me that he made himself available as a trustworthy volunteer youthworker at PCC. Through John’s faithfulness in ministry to students both at church and school, I came to be his friend and co-worker. In some ways, we had a reciprocal friendship–he served as a volunteer in the ministry I supervised, and I served as a volunteer in the classes he supervised. John’s involvement with students through church became a natural extension of his growing relationships with teenager’s all over our community. John would often invite students at school to join him at our weekly high school gathering. My involvement with John and outdoor mountaineering trips was a natural extension of the ministry I was carving out through the church. Our joint ministry was externally and outreach oriented–we kept the trajectory of our main weekly gathering on the widest range of students, especially those not likely to come inside a church building. In retrospect, the students enrolled in the San Carlos High School Mountaineering Courses were blessed and fortunate. They gained intimate access to a grace-filled teacher in John, and by extension, received the mentoring of caring adults whom John invited to help lead the “Field Study Projects.” As I reflect on my experience, I could not have been happier. I had boundless energy, considered it my calling to be with adults and students in ministry, and was invited to make my second office the mountains of California.

More to come …

 

The best job I could imagine – November 16, 1981 November 16, 2011

Today marks the 30th anniversary since I was rescued in the Ventana Wilderness area, some thirty miles south of Big Sur, California.

I fell off a 70 foot cliff while serving as a volunteer in a mountaineering class at San Carlos High School.

I’ve decided to celebrate the friends who saved my life by writing some posts about the experience. I do not pass a single day without reflecting on November 16, 1981 and the courage it took for my friends to make decisions and take action that spared my life. I also freely admit that human effort and courage can not fully explain my survival from the fall and the 18 hour ordeal till I was plucked out by helicopter and transported to the nearest hospital. I am alive, I believe, by the grace and choosing of God. Every day and every step is a gift not taken for granted.

I intend to write briefly about the experience and the lessons learned. I won’t take too much time refining my words, so apologies in advance for poor sentence structure, or disjointed paragraphs. I’m just going to get the stuff that I have spent years talking with others about into written form. I’m writing mostly for me, but I know some of these posts will strike a chord for someone else and prove helpful.

In 1980, I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary and began as an energetic youth pastor at Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, CA. One of the best parts of the ministry I was privileged to engage was to help out my friend, John Woodhall, as he taught several Mountaineering courses at San Carlos High School. Students learned basic mountaineering skills in the class room and then took their Mid term and Final exams, affectionately called “Field Study Projects,” in the wild. I participated in many projects and thoroughly enjoyed the treat of hanging with kids in the beautiful outdoors. I loved camping, backpacking, rock climbing, and sleeping under the stars. I couldn’t imagine a better job–getting paid to explore the woods with high energy, risk-taking, adventurous kids, and my good buddy John.

The only challenge of this particular weekend mid term was the torrential down pour of rain. I love to sleep outside, but I hate to sleep in the rain. Especially when the students were responsible for our rain shelters.

More to come …

You can read all posts related to my mountaineering accident by searching the Categories for Accident.

 

VCS Mexicali Team Emergency Plan 2011 March 2, 2011

Filed under: education,Missions,Parenting,Youth Ministry — billmacphee @ 12:52 pm

Momentum is building as we anticipate our service in Mexicali over Easter Break. Attached you will find our emergency communication plan. Let me know if you have questions or comments.

vcs mexicali emergency plan 2011

 

Michael Yaconelli – a rare prophet January 1, 2011

Mike Yaconelli was a unique youth ministry pioneer and prophet. I had the privilege to know him, work for him briefly, and benefit greatly from his counsel and wisdom. Anyone committed to youth ministry and the church owe him an unpayable debt. This video speaks for itself. I post it as a remembrance and reminder. “What a ride!”