Friday night at 11:30 pm Freshmen began to arrive at the HS parking lot to load up for our mystery trip. They had signed up not knowing anything about the itinerary or destination. By midnight we had 31 kids, 8 YL leaders, and 2 bus drivers ready to head off on an adventure.
1-3 am PAINTBALL
I was pretty apprehensive going in. We had been warned that we could get our eye shot out or we would get welts if we shot at close range. And all of the boys seemed pretty intense before we even began.
We split into the yellow and orange teams, got our guns and headed into the giant warehouse arena to play. We played Capture the Cone, Hostage, Sudden Death, Mini-Hostage all in pitch black. Yellow team won every single game. They turned down the pressure of the guns so it didn't hurt that bad and it was one of my favorite parts of the weekend.
We piled back on the buses and drove though the night. I laid on the floor below the seats and quickly fell asleep. A few hours later were awoken...
8:30 am INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES
A very sleepy group of kids climbed off the bus and proceeded to fill up half of IHOP.
All of the girls at our table ate chocolate chip pancakes while MaryEllen and I shared a breakfast platter of buttermilk and blueberry pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns and coffee. We were all stuffed by the time we got back on the bus.
9:30- 11:00 am ST. LOUIS ZOO
Upon arrival to the zoo we split into teams Paprika, Cilantro and Salt for a video scavenger hunt. Jake and I took the ten Salty kids determined to win the competition. We planked someplace unique...
But we got to the goriallas and the kids decided they wanted to be one with the animals. Our intense competitive mode turned into chill mode and we got last place.
Our group was awesome. Our kids were swinging from vines, vaulting bridges, talking to snakes in Parseltongue, tagging along with groups of runners, speaking in accents, and not just watching other people live life but really living life to the full.
If this whole YL staff thing doesn't work out for Jake I think he could become a tour guide.
In chill mode we still accomplished most of the things on the list. Leapfrog in front of kangaroos, high-5ing strangers, bernie with a park employee, sing a christmas song by the penguins, pretend to get stung by a stingray, act like monkeys in front of the monkeys, climb a tree, roll down a hill...
Camels are HUGE. I had no idea. Penguins are cute. I would adopt one if they didn't smell so bad.
Young Life loves the zoo.
12- 1:30 pm ST. LOUIS ARCH
Wohoo! It's a really big arch!
It was freezing and so windy. The boys played football and the girls had a photo shoot. We like to play to our strengths.
These men came and started a slow clap with us, got everyone to jump around and then told us go into the arch. No idea where they came from or who they are or why they told us to go into the arch because they don't work there.
MaryEllen, Tom, Alex and Kraft got busy working on some construction.
We went in groups of five in these little pod modules up to the top of the arch. It felt like we were in a ride at Disney World the whole time.
Not ideal if you're claustrophobic or afraid of heights.
Uptop everyone clustered around the little windows to look down on the city.
Down below we re-grouped. The fatigue was beginning to set in and everyone was hungry again.
Even Logan and Henry, two of the most hyper boys, tried to get in a power nap in the grass.
But it was freezing and in a few moments the pizza arrived. Hallelujah.
2-4 pm THE CITY MUSEUM
The St. Louis City Museum has been on my bucket list for awhile now and was easily the thing I was most excited about. It surpassed my expectations. This place is incredible. Part of the inside, the caves, are an intricate set of tunnels, stairs, crawl-spaces and hidden passages. You climb and squeeze and crawl your way though. We went all the way up the 10 story slide first.
On the outside their was a giant playground jungle gym. It was hard to tell how everything connected until you started climbing through it.
Kraft practiced pushing buttons for the Air Force. Avery had been there before and helped us find all the really cool spots.
David wanted to tebow in this picturesque spot and was interrupted by this child who then loudly announced to all of us, "I FEEL MORE APPRECIATED HERE THEN I HAVE EVER FELT APPRECIATED AT HOME," and then disappeared down the ladder. We're still a bit confused...
There were people of all ages climbing around the museum which is not really a museum at all unless we're learning about how to be adventurous and how to have fun. The crazy thing we couldn't get over was there were no rules, no one monitoring what everyone was doing.
All the leaders got to play together for awhile. I love that all of us really are just big kids that are all about taking opportunities to have fun and climb and laugh and play and embrace life and not just sit by while others explore.
Back inside we found some more crazy rooms. In the ramp room we found these ropes to swing from and then ran up and down skateboard ramps like Rufio and the rest of the lost boys in Hook. We saw a girl practicing tight rope walking and then around the next corner found a circus performance going on.
I loved the art room and getting to talk to a little girl about a cat mask she had just made. I would love to come back and create in that space.
There were rooms for birthday parties and then we stumbled upon this ballroom that we think would be prime for a wedding reception. We tried out the dance floor.
We were mesmerized by these lanyard/shoelace weaving machines and the spinning painted spindles on all of the staircases.
Near the end we stumbled upon the human hamster wheel. I never realized that it would be so fun to be a hamster.
Back on the bus to start driving back to Indiana, a few more stops to go. Most of us fell asleep right away, exhausted from our marathon of a day. We stopped for dinner at Subway and then just kept driving.
10-11 pm YOUNG LIFE CLUB AT THE W's BARN
We rallied to find the energy to jump and sing at an appropriatly intense volume considering the lack of energy we were all experiencing.
There was a visit from Camp Counselor Richard, I really enjoyed hipster MaryEllen...
we played "Catapult Produce at Bubble-Wrapped Kraft" and Jake gave the club talk.
He shared in John where Chrsit tells us, "I came that they may have life, and have it to the full." We loved the Harry Potter metaphor that at first Harry was just living in the Dursley's cupboard. He thought that just getting the chance to walk around the neighborhood was great. But what Harry didn't know was that he was meant for something greater. Harry was a Wizard, Harry was meant for Hogwarts, Harry had a life of adventure ahead just waiting for him to discover.
It's easy for us to not see beyond our own figuritive cupboard, to not recognize that we're stuck. But Christ is offering us so much more, a life abundant that isn't defined by perfect grades, or the best boyfriend, or being the MVP or being the skinniest or strongest or most popular. Christ wants us to reach for this life full of joy and peace and hope and grace and mercy and forgiveness and adventure.
12 am RETURN TO CARMEL
The mystery trip was a success. We're exhausted but that was one of most exciting and fun 24 hours ever. Mission accomplished.