What a blast!


Winter Blast 2009 that is.  Meh- this post is two days late I know. I just didn’t feel like doing a second post on Sunday, and I did start this yesterday but I really didn’t have the time I needed to write the whole thing between work and small group.  Anyway, back to the post.  Friday night through Saturday night had a mini-camp known also known as a winter retreat, titled Winter Blast.  While older kids will be going to a bonafide camp for two days instead of just one in the coming weeks, we packed that time into just 24 hours right at the church.  It helped that we didn’t need to burn eight hours getting them there and back.  It also helped the parents’ budgets since those buses cost money, and so do the extra meals.

Friday evening:  I arrived at about 5:30 and headed into a pre-retreat meeting for the leaders.  We were provided with a small meal and information on the weekend including check-in instructions and the entire schedule for the retreat.  As you can see below the schedule was quite packed and the kids were kept busy:

Daily Schedule
Game Schedule

Once check-in started I took my post handing out T-shirts.  From the beginning there was a problem- the actual sizes, and what the parents based their pick on, were the real sizes of youth medium, youth large, and youth extra large.  As it turned out, youth xl wasn’t available so they went with adult medium instead.  So the sizes we had were M, L, and um- M.  Adding to the confusion were the tickets they gave the parents to pick up the shirts.  They said simply small, medium, and large.  I’m not sure why this ended up being confusing for me as all I had to do was take the tickets at face value and hand out the three sizes according to what was on the tickets.  Probably many of the parents who told me that no, this wasn’t the right size.  I know because of their confusion the tickets were eventually dropped and I was told to go with the sizes printed on their name tags which were the actual sizes.  It was a breeze from there, except we ran out of some of the sizes, and ended up with a bunch of extra youth medium shirts.  In my opinion these shirts, at least the child sizes were smaller than they said but not being a parent I don’t know that for sure.

Enough with the T-shirts.  That just went way too long.  So after that, the retreat was officially underway.  After a brief introduction we went outside to play the first games.  This was Friday night- anyone remember the weather report for Chicago/Midwest?  An arctic front was moving in.  The temperature hadn’t dropped much yet, but that wind was just biting.  Not enough to keep us from having fun, but cold just the same.  After my team lost both games (we switched halfway through- everyone played both games) we went in for pizza.  There was a lot of it.  I think they had at least three or four pizzas left over, and when I say pizzas I don’t mean some dinky 14-inch- I mean a large tray about 16×32 or bigger.  We certainly got our fill.

Next up was the lesson, which started with some up-front games.  This is how each session started.  These games required one or two kids from each team come up to the front and participate in some quick contest.  Over the three sessions we had games including fast-eating contests with gelatin, whipped cream, and baby food; a singing game; and a mummy game (wrap the contestant with toilet paper).  My team won a couple of them, but the results were generally spread out.  I don’t think any team dominated.  Following the up front games were worship (three or four songs), a short drama involving Private Prepared and Private Slacker (guess which one was the positive model? 🙂 ), a lesson from Ephesians chapter 6 (armor of God- hence the military theme you saw on the game schedule), and a small group time.  We went up to our “cabins” for small group time (classrooms really).  The first one we spent together, three of us leaders and nine kids in my room.  For Saturday’s small groups we split into three groups with three kids each.  In these groups we tried to solidify the lesson in their minds and talk about how they could apply it in their own lives.  We also talked to each of them about where they were in their spiritual walks.

With the Friday session over, it was time to go to bed.  We were running late so the optional video was canceled.  One of the boys went behind something to change into his PJs.  A couple others saw this and walked over to him.  Big mistake on their parts.  We learned from this that he doesn’t wear underwear under his PJs to bed.  I really didn’t need to know this fact.  At least I don’t need to pour bleach into my eyes or anything like that to destroy the image like those other two kids.  😯   The interesting thing is I had that boy in my cabin over the summer and either I never discovered this about him, or it is something that changed since then.  Hmm.    Well, it was time for lights out.  As usual when more than one or two kids are put in a room together, it took some time to get them to be quiet and go to sleep.  At least there were only nine of them- last year we had a larger room with about 30 kids.

So next day, after about 3-4 hours of sleep, I woke up to a couple of the kids talking about a half-hour before wake-up call.  That was it for me- no going back to sleep so I got up.  Bathroom and teeth-brushing aside, it was time for breakfast.  Why do they brush their teeth before breakfast anyway?  Eating will just dirty them up again.  Personally, I choose to take care of my teeth after breakfast so they are fresh until midmorning snack or lunch.  For the most part breakfast wasn’t bad, though the sausage patties left something to be desired.  The head of the kitchen studied under a world-famous chef, but when the source isn’t good no chef can do anything about it.  Following breakfast was another session and another set of games.  This time I thought my team won one of the games, but I found out later I was wrong.  A pair of leaders had been playing on our side and apparently we got penalized for it as they were too good.  Oh, well.  Fair is fair.  Lunch consisted of hot dogs, fries, and peas & corn.  Then they brought in ice cream bars much to the delight of the kids.  Afternoon was much the same as the morning, and I know we won at least one of the games.  The temperature, by the way, I think was lower than the night before for our games, but without the icy wind so it actually felt a lot better.  After the games was free time.  Sort of free anyway.  Since there was a 5:00 service at the church the kids were confined to only a few areas: the gym for dodge-ball and beachball volley ball, the cafe area for board games and crafts, and the junior high room for things like 4-square, air hockey, and carpetball.  They had another area briefly to watch a video, but that was done shortly after the start of the service as the younger kids needed it.

Dinner time with linguini and meatballs followed, with a wrap-up ceremony with the parents to end the time.  That’s where, to my changine, I found out our team came in fourth place.  Well, my teams had first place last year and second place for the last two summers, so I could accept this though it left me wondering as I thought the Saturday games went well for us.  When I asked, that’s when I found out about the penalties for the one game.  Better luck next time, eh?  So all in all, I had a good time with this and will continue to do it as long as I’m working with this ministry.  Well, time to wrap this post up I guess.  I know I skipped over some things like unpacking and packing and the group photo (taken from the roof!), but this post is long enough, don’t you think? 😛

5 thoughts on “What a blast!”

  1. I agree, the young man who goes to bed wearing no undergarments was a bit too much. Unbeknownst cheating? Yes, I remember well the days of sleep overs, lock-ins, and the like… little to no sleep. But fun time. And brushing before eating? I hope there were no sweets involved.. perhaps the toothpaste added to the undesirable sausage (for those who brushed before eating 😉 )

  2. Whoops- a little edit: he said he doesn’t wear undies under his PJs to bed. Correcting that. He wasn’t walking around with only a shirt… 😮

  3. Sounds like fun. Don’t know why they’d plan outdoor activities for THIS time of year though. Reminds me of the Snowball retreats I attended in High School.

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