“Ebony, would you be willing to take our middle schoolers to CIY?”

This was how my CIY experience began; with Tom Pounder our lead Student Minister asking me a simple question. Of course I answered yes, or I wouldn’t be writing this blog post and truthfully I’m glad I did. During my four years of college, my friends told me their stories about CIY and some had completed their internship through CIY, but I had personally never experienced what CIY had to offer until this summer.

middle schoolOn July 18th, I arrived at the nZone with bags packed and an anxious, yet excited, feeling in my stomach. Tanner, one of the summer interns, and I were ready to meet the eight students that we would be leading through the week and head up to Pennsylvania for my first taste of CIY. I did not know what this week would have in store for us, but as we finally arrived at CIY the anxious feeling faded away. After our group time on the first night I knew that this week was going to be full of some life changing experiences; I wasn’t wrong.

As the week continued, it was amazing to see the students worship, grow, and having fun alongside 300 other students and youth leaders. Speaking for both myself and Tanner, we were blown away by how quickly we were able to strengthen relationships with students that we didn’t even know before this trip, and build relationships with other youth group students and leaders.

Our group of ten was a lot smaller than many of the other groups there, but that didn’t stop us from having just as much, if not more, fun as the other groups. I believe it was because of the small size of our group that we were able to have more meaningful conversations and it allowed us as leaders to bond with all of our students instead of just a few. Looking back at the week I can honestly say it was my favorite experience so far in my time here at New Life for a variety of reasons; but mainly because it pushed me to grow alongside the students which I think so many of us leaders forget to do. At the beginning of the week all I could only think about was what I could teach these students; but as we drove home, I couldn’t help but wonder if I actually taught them anything at all because they had taught me so much about being intentional, living in the moment, and striving after God with all your heart.

So ask me the question again, “Ebony, would you be willing to take our middle schoolers to CIY?” My answer would be an immediate and excited YES because CIY is more than another ministry conference – it’s a place where leaders and their students worship, grow, and have fun together; and personally, the together part is the key because students are supposed to learn from their leaders; but the leaders should also learn from their students. So to the students that went to CIY with me: Thank you for letting me teach you, but most importantly for teaching me!

To learn more about the New Life Middle School ministry, the Uprising, click here.