This weekend was wild, wonderful, and wet! We took our first trip of the school year with our youth group, a trip called Team Survival Challenge (TSC for short). The idea was born about 7 years ago while we served in Waycross. Chad and I were survivor junkies, a passion that has died out by now- all those emaciated whinny girls in bikinis and cut throat antics really start running together after however many seasons, anyway when Survivor fever was at it’s peak we always watched the game challenges and thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could re-create that for the youth kids? Activities that would be a perfect mix of physical endurance, mental gumption, and calculated strategy?” So this trip was born and added to the “normal” rotation of annual trips.
The kids are divided up into teams and receive a different colored team bandana. Each team has a male and female adult leader. Together as a team they must name their team, plan and do one of the weekend’s devotion, and play crazy games as a team to earn points. At the end of the weekend we add up the points and the winner receives 10 pounds of candy and gets to sign the treasure chest that holds it. Each team votes for an MVP that demonstrated not only a winning attitude, but a Christ-like spirit throughout the weekend. Our games (most of which were played in a literal monsoon of rain) included some new favorites- penguin football and the savage relay, but had plenty of the most requested favorites- bucket ball, chariot racing, torpedo, the molecule engineering game, and the picture game. The weekend’s most important event is the boat building relay. Basically the church people save all of their bottles and jugs for a few weeks, we add in some bamboo, balloons, cardboard, and of course, duct tape; and each team builds their own boat that must be water worthy and able to carry at least one person to race the boat with a handmade paddle! (I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it really does work!)
This year the boat race was held in the torrential downpour (you know the kind where no amount of rain gear or umbrellas can keep you dry.) But the show must go on! We stood under the lodge’s overhang, trash boats in tow, for about 45 minutes, waiting for the rain to lighten up. I’m not sure why we did this since it hadn’t stopped raining for close to 24 hours at this point. Then finally, we all stepped out into the rain when it was obvious that no end was in site. Each team paraded down the hill, boat masterpiece in hand- each with their team chant, costumes, banners, noise makers, screaming and shouting over the rain! It was magnificent.
Every trip reminds me what a wonderful life I have. To be with these wonderful energetic teenagers, to worship with them, to build trash boats with them, to doctor them up when they need bandaids and Tylenol, to learn with them, to grow in Christ with them- it’s an amazing experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
P.S- Bonus- Jordan came “home” this weekend to go on the trip with us. He helped Chad with worship music and was a team leader to the “Orange Unicorns”. He said it was actually more fun being a adult leader than a team member. Maybe it’s just because his team won! So other than being really wet and looking like a drowned rat, what a perfect weekend!