Home Sweet Home
August 11th, 2009
Last weekend marked the end of summer for me. Last weekend was my annual “Boot Camp” for rising sixth graders. The weekend is set aside for me and the volunteer (actually manipulated) youth leaders to spend time with our newest and youngest members of the youth group. I always have Boot Camp as a “goal”. If I can only make it to Boot Camp, I will be able to survive.
With all that said, I find much joy each summer with leaving the campus of Ridgedale and departing for some not-so-distant location with a group of screaming, excited, and possibly 1st time away from home, middle schoolers. I usually have a smile on my face as we leave the parking lot. Parents are thinking it is the joy I have in spending time with their prize possessions and don’t
Realize that I know fall is in my sights. [Side note: 20 years ago, parents used to cry when the bus left with their darlings. Now, they have big smiles. Wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that they have a free weekend without their child. Hmm?]
This years’ recruits are a great bunch. Very talkative and loud, extremely outgoing and loud, lots of energy and loud and did I mention “LOUD”? Loudness is good, especially when directed to the Lord.
Boot Camp went off without a hitch the first day and a half. Then, the wheels fell off! As we approached the end of day two, one of my valued youth leaders doubled over in pain. Not knowing the reason for pain, steps had to be taken to get the lady to a doctor. Frantically trying to keep my group of recruits occupied and out of the way of the infirmed, I decided it was game time on the football field. Exploring a new concept or a tricky game to 6th graders can be difficult. I beamed with pride as I completed my instruction of our 1st game. Boom, lightning hit the night sky and thunder rumbled. “Everyone run for cover”.
Now confined to the dorm and one leader heading for the emergency room, I began to create a plan for transportation and “temporary” replacement of a youth leader. As I searched my pockets for the keys to the van, I walked to the bus. Finding nothing in my pockets but lint, I spotted my keys on the floor board of the LOCKED bus. What else could go wrong? Trying not to appear stressed or totally disgusted to my recruits, I started making phone calls for a replacement and a set of keys. In between calls, one of my prized recruits informs me that another recruit was sick with similar symptoms of my hospital bound youth leader. What else? Diffusing the problem of the key, finding an adult to relieve the sick leader, sending the sick leader to the hospital, and determining that the youth had simply been running and singing too much, I sat down to catch my breath. Thinking thoughts of fall soon arriving were interrupted by the announcement that one of the youth had thrown up in the bunk room from laughing too much. Someone get me a garbage can!
All the above is true and happened in an hour and a half. WOW! I am reminded of Romans 8:28 – All things happen . . . Adventures in the world of youth ministry are never dull. Many unusual and awkward things will happen but in the end, God will work them out for His glory. I have always (well at least most of the time) had the philosophy that I can allow the experience of life and ministry to be an opportunity for growth or an obstacle.
The experiences of Boot Camp are a memory we laugh about now. The leader has healed. The floor was cleaned of all the contamination. And, I did not break the bus window to get the key. Let the fall begin!