Young Life Lite

Our Time (Just You, Me and 450 Campers.)

A father and daughter’s camp experiences unite their hearts in mission.

Imagine childhood as a Young Life staff kid. What could be better? (Staff kids, don’t answer that.) In addition to having a parent (or two) with a flexible schedule, familiarity with your school and friendships with kids you look up to, you’ve got a parent whose job allows your family to spend one month almost every summer together at a Young Life camp. Together — just you, your family and hundreds of kids you’ve never seen before. And your parent wants to meet them all.

The idealized picture of a staff kid’s childhood dissolves a little there, but for Annalise Hume, daughter of JC Bowman, field director for Young Life Small Towns, those weeks at camp with her dad were precious. JC’s wife, Barb, worked outside the home during her childhood, so for Annalise and her older brother, Jimmy, summer camp wasn’t a monthlong, family affair for all four Bowmans. Still, Annalise made sure she’d spend at least part of her dad’s camp assignment at his side. Why? “Because it was our time.”

Annalise cherished that time with her dad. “I loved it so much that in middle school I went with him while he served at a father-son camp.” More typically, for weeks every summer Annalise would sit in a back corner of the club room and listen again to the stories she’d heard so often (and ones she’d heard the week before). Sometimes those familiar stories hit close to home, with the retelling of Bowman family lore. Sensitive to this, JC sought his son’s permission to speak at the WyldLife camp Jimmy would be attending with his middle school friends. “I asked Jimmy if he’d be comfortable with me speaking. He said, ‘It’s OK if you speak. Just don’t tell any stories about me. Oh, and don’t tell them you’re my dad.’”

JC said Young Life camping has changed from years ago when staff families were less visible, and more behind the scenes. Today, families are not only visible at camp, there are generations of them serving together at camp. “That’s the legacy of our camping ministry, showing staff kids that in the midst of it all, they’re a part of the team reaching kids for Christ.”

Even as a preschooler Annalise believed she was a part of the team. On long drives home from camp she’d run club from her car seat, starting with fast songs, and ending with the talk. As an older child, she told JC she knew his messages so well she could deliver them verbatim.

“That’s true,” said Annalise. “The stories are committed to my memory. Once when my dad was speaking at Malibu, I saw him pacing outside the club room. That was normal. What wasn’t normal was the word change in his talk. Just one word, but I recognized it. Afterward, he told me that during his customary pre-club pacing and prayer, the Holy Spirit had led him to change it.”

These days, it’s JC who wants to be at camp with his daughter to hang on her every word. Annalise is now a Young Life area developer in New Jersey, and for seven years she’s had a camp assignment. JC spends time with her at camp whenever he can. During her first Washington Family Ranch Canyon program team assignment, JC drove five hours from his own program team assignment to be at club for one night.

Last summer, their assignments made a road trip like that impossible. Annalise was speaking at Rockbridge in Virginia while JC was the speaker at Young Life Adventures in Santa Cruz, California. Separated by 2,700 miles and three time zones, it was still their time — their time to deliver the message they knew so well, and the one they want every camper to know by heart: You are welcome. You are loved like crazy. You belong here in this BIG family of God.