Long brown hair. Easy laugh. Perpetual Smile. Charlee had all the visible appearances of success and popularity.
But externals rarely tell the whole story. Like many military-connected youth, her confidence was hard won. In a quiet moment at camp, I asked her, “Charlee, what’s it like being you?”
In response, she launched right into the unique nature of her military life. “I think being a military kid is really complicated because if you move a lot, it’s really hard to become friends with people.” The smile hadn’t left her face. “Then you get attached to others…and go to a new place and then just meet other people again and just repeat the same cycle over and over.” Charlie’s smile looked a little worn.
“And it’s just really complicated to become close with someone because you know that you’re moving soon, and you don’t want get hurt again… Yeah, that’s what it’s like to be a military kid.” Her smile faded slightly. I could tell Charlee had faced a lot of loss with remarkable resilience. Fortunately, she was still open to relationship. Sometimes youth like Charlee shy away from friendships because of the risk.
I asked about her experience of camp. “Um, I really like it.” She flashed her signature smile. “I don’t want to leave. I’ve gotten really close to people.”
I silently said a prayer of thanks. Charlee had experienced community – one of our biggest goals for YFC Military camps, retreats, and trips. We condense a lot of relational connection into a few days with the hope that we can introduce youth to Jesus, support their resilience, and help them thrive.
Not every military-connected teen has an easy smile and a confident air like Charlee. Many pace base sidewalks and school hallways unseen, unconnected, and unaware that Jesus loves them. During this Month of the Military Child, look around you. Is God calling you to invest in a military-connected youth? We can help.
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–Article by SaraBeth Wadsworth, Community Engagement Coordinator