Thursday, June 25, 2009

Youth Ministry Story: Amusement Park Edition

(First, a confession: I do not like roller coasters. I will not willingly spend my off days waiting in lines to ride a 30 second coaster. But I do love going to theme parks with students.)

I thought I'd share a few stories from the many trips I have taken to amusement parks over the years. One from being in youth group and the other from being a youth minister.

Story #1 - Repeat
The first story comes from my days of high school. It was my junior year, I believe, and we were on our way to Cedar Point for our annual trip. This trip involved a caravan of a few cars, vans and the church van. Three of my friends and I were in a van with a couple adults and we had a blast. I say "we" had a blast, that "we" would not include the adults and here is why. During the few hour ride to Cedar Point, my friends and I had a tape (yes, a cassette tape) that we asked the driver to put in the tape deck. I do not even remember the name of the album, but I do remember listening to it a few times.

Well, a few times is not quite right. And in fact, I do not think we made it through the entire tape. Instead we listened to one song over and over. I think we listened to it like 28 times. We thought it was the funniest thing to hear it over and over. (note of thanks to adults who endure this kind of behavior during trips - your suffering through this type of pain is a huge part of youth ministry making a difference in a student's life. I will forever be grateful to the adults who willingly listened to and rewound the tape that many times) I do not even remember much about the rest of that day, but this car experience will forever be ingrained in my brain. It is one of my favorite moments from youth group.

(I'd love to hear if Doug and Jeremy remember this trip)

Story #2 - Roller Coaster Wimps
The second story comes from my last trip to Six Flags with my first youth group. It was during a tough summer for me, I knew it was my last summer and the students did not. During this trip, there was one student who shared my "dislike" of roller coasters. So, we spent the day together and it was such a great time. We rode this "kid" ride (one of those indoors, "scary" rides) at least three times in a row.

We walked around, looking in the gift shops and watching people do silly stuff. Toward the end of the day, we went to the water park (newly opened) and hung out. We had no change of clothes, but we kept walking under the waterfall. (common sense reminder: if you have on a leather belt and you allow it to get wet and remain wet for hours, you have essentially ruined your belt. Just thought you'd like to know) Though we did not go on a single roller coaster, we had a blast. And I got to spend some quality time with a student. A lot more time than I would have on a normal day.

What is your favorite amusement park story?

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