I think I need to come to terms with the fact that I don't have "normal" weekends.
Either I'm hanging out with zombies or I spend it with a ton of teenagers. Although by the end of the weekend, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. I suppose that's one of the "hazards" of working in youth ministry. But if you don't expect this to happen... maybe it's not the right job for you.
For people who are familiar with the "sterotypcial" youth ministry world, when you think of youth retreats and trips there are a few things which come to mind:
- Loud music
- Crazy games
- Hundreds of hormonal teenagers
- A big mess
- No sleep
- Making sure nothing breaks
- Poking the teenagers every few minutes to be sure they're still awake during Bible study
Not this trip. Okay... there were some of these things. But not like it normally would be.
It was called Peer Ministry Training. Churches only bring a few youth (I like to bring only 3-4) and they learn how to help their peers. Basically it's like counseling 101.
The best part is that every year this retreat stretches everyone beyond what they thought they could do. I didn't tell the three I had with me that while they'll be meeting complete strangers on Friday night, by Sunday morning they would be crying to these strangers about the biggest issues in their lives. (Well... one of the girls cried the first night. Which wasn't a surprise.) They learn to see people in a new way. They see themselves in a new way too.
Some highlights of the weekend:
- Reuniting with people from the church in Joplin where I did Camp Noah.
- Finding some new "Whovian" friends
- Learning more about these teens I've known for five years
- Realizing how well those teens know me
- Making sure you ALWAYS have more than one box of tissues in a room
- My co-teacher looking at me while I'm trying to explain a concept and saying "You lost me at Lord of the Rings"
- Everyone in the room understanding the Hunger Games devotion on Saturday morning
- Sitting to the side watching To Save a Life and making fun commentary the whole time
- Watching Pitch Perfect during free time
- Being able to be a little more leanient (but not too much!) with what music is played in the car
- One of the youth compare me to being like a sister to them
- Editing photos with the Newsies Photobooth app
- A youth pointing out to you that while one person may have certain talents, you have other ones, and that's okay
- One of the other adults thinking two of the teenage girls are the loud giggly ones at night... when it's actually you and another adult
- Youth being able to open up to each other about deep issues they haven't been able to talk about before
- Hearing a group randomly burst into harmony during "Beautiful Savior"
|We got to hang out with Louie the comfort dog all weekend. It was pretty awesome. And they gave me permission to use their photo.|