my small group of 6th grade guys had a pool party a couple weeks ago as our final meeting of the school year. we take the summer off (a good break for me and for them), and will resume in september. it was a great night of laughter, silliness, sharing, and food. a handful of things i noticed:
- ask 6th grade guys to all bring a snack, and their creativity comes out. surely, moms were helpful; but i was amazed at the diversity. one guy brought a pan of taquitos he’d heated up himself. one brought a couple pizzas. two brought rice krispie treats that they had a hand in making (one with marshmallow fluff on top, the other individually wrapped in little zip-loc bags). there were brownies and bags of chips. but the prize of the night went to the chocolate covered bacon.
- put a bunch of 6th grade guys in a pool or hot tub, and they seem more like kids than teenagers. their “cool factor” goes away, and their pre-pubescent bodies are revealed in all their glory. but they are keenly aware of their budding selves. during the game of “sharks and minnows,” motivation was much more anchored in avoiding looking dumb than in being competitive (which would be different if they were in 8th grade).
- my co-leader, gary, has been bringing his “waterproof bible” to our small group all year. and the guys have been mesmerized by it. all year they have wanted to put it in the sink or test it in some other way. but it didn’t take long, at the pool party, for gary’s bible to become a prop for funny posed photos, causing gary to have to say, more than once, “please don’t land on my bible; it’s not made for that.”
- while consuming a table-full of munchies, we shared what we’re looking forward to about the summer. i was once again reminded of the uniqueness of each guy, including both their unique interests and their unique family situations. examples:
- “i’m looking forward to NO SCHOOL!” vs. “i’m looking forward to summer being over, because i like school better”
- “i’m looking forward to going to the beach” vs. “i’m looking forward to going to england”
- “i’m looking forward to seeing my dad” vs. all the plans that assumed dad was in the picture
- i learned that while i can still effectively compete in a breath-holding contest and win, my days of effectively competing in a “number of somersaults in one breath” days are over. i still won (12), but it ruined me for 24 hours. i had a headache and was nauseous, and my sinuses were jacked through the next day. ah: old, you taker of things.
(btw: if you “get this,” you should be making plans to join us for the middle school ministry campference, this october 26 – 28.)