Junior Staff

The Boardwalk Chapel ministry simply wouldn’t be possible without summer staff, volunteers, and church groups. These human voices, hands, and feet are the tools God uses to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people on the boardwalk all summer long, as he provides opportunity! This witness is maintained through programs every night that are open to passersby, and through one-on-one evangelism out on the boardwalk.

One essential part of our team is the Junior Staff. Junior Staff are 16 and 17 year olds who come for up to four weeks at a time. We’re wrapping up our second year of the program, and continuing to refine how we do things to better accomplish the goal of Junior Staff. What is that goal? Junior Staff was created to give a small group of young people the chance to serve here while also meeting their unique needs. Since it’s no more than four weeks at a time, it gives them the experience of life away from home but in a manageable amount of time. Junior Staffers receive oversight and mentorship from their counselor, participate in daily evangelism training and evangelism, and use their gifts throughout various teams (music, drama, domestics, AVL).

It’s a structured environment, surrounded by believers, under supervision and mentorship.

The Junior Staff are not second class! While sometimes they will participate in different activities than the other staff, blessing them through helping out with extra yard work or fixing dinner one night a week, they also get to serve on the team they are gifted in. 

“It’s a really good environment for growth,” said Jerry, who served on Junior Staff’s first iteration of summer 2023. “There’s a lot of new things being on Junior Staff can teach you about the world. If you’ve never gone out and lived on your own, it’s a really good experience. I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here, but I’m really enjoying this kind of family encouragement, and the emphasis on prayer. You’re going to be challenged and stretched in a lot of good ways. You’re going to talk to a lot of people that you might not talk to in other places, people of different perspectives on the boardwalk. You’re going to learn a lot about yourself, and a lot about others. Most importantly, you’re going to learn how to react and how to talk to other people about your faith.”

A day in the life of Junior Staff starts around noon, when they have team training. Whether they’re taking the first week to study evangelism, or during the later weeks serving on whatever team they choose, the early afternoon is a time of dinner prep, music practice, drama rehearsal, or helping out where needed. Then, from 2pm to 3pm the Junior Staff have a book study time, guys and girls with their respective groups. 3pm to 5:30 is free time, where they might play games in the yard, watch a movie, or help finish cooking up dinner.

After dinner, there’s group devotions, and then everyone heads to the Chapel for sound check, program, and evangelism. Close to midnight, everyone heads home, the Junior Staff girls to their apartment, the guys to their room. They have devotions before bed, and it’s a time to talk through the day’s activities and process the night’s conversations with each other and their leader.

A huge focus of the Junior Staff team is mentorship. The reason the Junior Staff teams are small, usually 4-5 members, is so that each one can receive mentorship and discipleship from the Junior Staff leaders. “Mentorship is really great for your growth in Christ,” said Kade, another Junior Staffer. “It helps in getting more knowledge of the things that you believe, and better understanding why you believe them.” Young people need the attention and discipleship of older Christians.

What many Junior Staff cite as a favorite part of coming on Junior Staff is the tight-knit friendships. Living in close quarters can be such a spiritually and emotionally strengthening experience. “I do really like Junior Staff,” said Lydia. “I really like living in the same apartment with the girls. I’ve been able to grow good, strong friendships in a short amount of time, because of being in close quarters with them. Junior Staff is a good introduction to the Boardwalk Chapel and what it would be like on staff, but you have more supervision and support.”

But is it worth giving up a month of your summer? Is there real growth?

“This summer I have grown in trusting that God will answer our prayers, and he does, all the time,” said Ryleigh. She’d been coming with her youth group to the Chapel before deciding to join Junior Staff once she was old enough. “I’ve also grown in my boldness in evangelism. I was scared that I was going to be really shy talking to people, but God has really helped me with that, enabling me to speak from the heart and not get too nervous talking to strangers. I would definitely encourage coming to Junior Staff. It’s a great way to grow your faith, and it’s a great way to see what staff is like if you’re planning on coming back. It’s basically like being on regular staff, but with a few more limitations and a closer bond with the Junior Staff.”

“I’ve grown in my ability to spread the Gospel, because of the training and things that have been taught to us,” said Kade, during his last weekend at the Chapel. “My confidence in what I believe has grown because of the apologetics training. Those are the two major areas that I’ve grown.”

It’s the nature of the environment of the Chapel—daily evangelism, in the fellowship of other believers—to grow and change people, even adults. But it’s wonderful to learn these skills while you’re still young.

“You should definitely be prayerful and intentional about it, but I think if it’s something you feel called to do, you definitely should do it,” said Iley. She came on Junior Staff as a sixteen year old in 2022, and then returned for both iterations of 2023 (that’s only permitted for returning Junior Staff, not first-time Junior Staff). “It’s a good opportunity. It’s really great having the community and the fellowship here. It’s such a good way to spend your summer. You’re not being idle—you’re constantly serving in one way or another. It is really fun, and you have good times, but also you’re able to minister: both to people on the boardwalk, and also encourage and be encouraged by other staff.”

Iley chose to come all the way from California to the Chapel. “I don’t think of it as giving up my summer!” she said. “I’m getting to do this. I don’t have to come here. I prayed about it a lot last year, and I felt like it was really something I wanted to do. I’m still working, but in a different way. I’m not making money, but I’m working for God. Also, it equips me when I go back home, and back to my job—it helps me evangelize more. It helps me when I go back home. I’m better equipped to evangelize and be a witness.”

We’re so thankful for the Junior Staff and everything they bring to the team!

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