Walt Harper is a junior at the University of South Carolina where he studies psychology. This summer will be Walt’s third summer with FUGE, serving as the XFuge Host for the past two summers and Assistant Director this year. Walt loves spending time with his family and friends, the 90s, watching Netflix for hours on end, and Carolina football.
For those of you who don’t know, Student Leader Apprentice (or SLA) is a two-week program FUGE offers for students going into or just finishing their senior year of high school. During these two weeks, participants will take part in team-building exercises, Bible studies, and shadowing an actual FUGE staffer. I had the privilege of being a part of this experience. It was two of the most exciting, revolutionary, hilarious, and humbling weeks of my life so far. God taught me so much during my time at SLA. More than I ever expected. But of all the things I took away from those two weeks, two things stand out that I think prepared me for staff: intentionality and flexibility.
Intentionality. I had never heard this word before SLA. Honestly, I didn’t really know what it meant the first time Sean Marie, our SLA leader, said it. Intentionality is defined online as “done with purpose.” My prayer going into those two weeks was that God would break down walls for me and those I met. Man, did He come through on that one! Within the first two days of being there, my SLA group had gone from superficial conversations about school to deep, pointed conversations about our faith, scripture, and ministry. I had never been so encouraged and pushed in my faith by people my own age! It was such a blessing to be a part of such an intentional group of students. Even better: seeing the love of Christ reflected in our friendships. We bonded instantly and began to form real community. Praying for each other’s needs and struggles, sharing what God was teaching us, and encouraging each other daily through scripture and prayer. I came to realize how intentional God had been with me all my life, and I was to reflect that in my relationships I formed.
Flexibility. One thing a former youth pastor would tell us when we went on mission trips was, “you better be ready to preach, pray, sing, or die at a moment’s notice.” While that may sound a little morbid toward the end, we always laughed, knowing he was encouraging us to leave our comfort zones. During the second week of SLA, I was assigned to shadow Hamilton, a PCY (painting, construction, and yard work) track leader. To be honest, I always avoided PCY like the plague as a camper. It wasn’t that I didn’t like being outside, but it just wasn’t something I felt I was good doing. When I had gotten my assignment, I felt a little nervous and slightly defeated. “Well, there goes my second week, down the drain,” I thought. Thankfully, our great God had other things in store. That week, I was brought so far out of my comfort zone on site. God taught me that His plan is greater, even (or especially) when we have differing ones. That week was probably the best week on site that I had ever experienced at camp, getting to help lead and love students.
Yes, intentionality and flexibility were both extremely important for staff life. But more importantly, they have been SO important in my everyday life. God knew what awaited me when I got home from SLA: college life and the challenges and struggles that come with it. I was constantly reminded by God to be intentional not only with other people on campus, but with my time as well. To make sure that I gave Him the time He deserves. I was pushed to be flexible with ministry opportunities I received and class scheduling, knowing that at the end of the day, God was to be glorified in it all. I wouldn’t trade my two weeks with my SLAmily at SLA for anything and I am so thankful I was given the chance to participate in this program. If you or one of your students is thinking about applying, go with Nike’s slogan: just do it!