ah, what a blessing to be in a room packed with middle school youth workers from around the country.
our first evening was amazing. people rolled in all afternoon — some driving up to 14 hours to be here. we gathered first over dinner, where conversation was instantly lively (which i would expect from middle school ministry people). we’re doing a fun little thing at meals. since the camp had the ability to hook up an ipod to their dining hall sound system, we enlisted 6 different attendees to “dj a meal,” which basically meant that they each put together an hour-long playlist on their ipod. it will be fun to see the different personalities reflected in these meal-time playlists.
our kick-off ‘tribal gathering’ tonight was everything i had hoped it would be. brooklyn lindsay opened the time with a creative prayer and some welcoming words. we did a little ‘who’s hear’ thing where the oldest youth worker and the newest youth worker (not youngest) each won a massive mega-pack of resources from our great sponsors at simply junior high (seriously, each mega-pack was worth about $700!). scott rubin and brooklyn facilitated a game we made up that had people identifying funny things about their ministry year, in a kind of a 1 on 1 competition mode. of course, crazy amounts of candy were thrown to the crowd, and the winner got a funny prize.
i went through the “camp rules” (which, i’d like to think, set this event apart from pretty much any other youth ministry training event on earth – i’ll blog them in the next week). then johnny scott and a couple other guys from our wonderful partners at CIY led a time of worship where everyone totally dove in.
then we launched into the soapbox sessions. we had four people give 7 minute soapbox rants about something they wish we in middle school ministry would think about or do differently. we set the stage by explaining that this was the kind of honest dialogue, filled with the opportunity for disagreement but permeated with respect and affection, was what we were hoping for the whole weekend. after each soapbox rant, myself or brooklyn moderated a few questions from the audience. katie edwards kicked it off by talking about her experience as a foster mom, and how it has impacted her views and practice of ministry. she challenged all of us to think differently about our field of ministry. jeremy hickman, an attendee who had won the online contest we held with attendees ahead of time to give a soapbox rant, spoke passionately about the need to invest in leaders. heather flies spoke via video about the need (and pay-offs) of good organization and communication. and kurt johnston brought it home with four mini-rants on everything from how “the youth ministry sky is not falling” to “let’s speak about god less and jesus more often.”
we followed this with our first round of breakout sessions, which included a seminar, a dialogue, and a “dialoginar” (a word we made up for something halfway between a seminar and a dialogue).
then, late night fun: the camp invented a new game for us — glow stick paintball. and few people did the ‘night owl zipline’ on springhill camp’s 1000-foot zipline. i think two people went to the screening of a thief in the night (yes!). but most hung out by a fire pit or in the dining hall and had fantastic conversations.
tomorrow, day #2, is a full day. but if it’s anything like tonight, it’s going to rock.