Thursday, September 12, 2013

FBC and Wyld Life are back in full force

Friendship Bracelet Club is back and better then ever. After school I raced down to the Large Group Instructional Room (LGI) because my classroom wasn't going to be large enough. My rock star 8th grade girls, Sarah Jane, Lucy and Victoria, manned the doors with attendance sheets as everyone showed up.

A total of 91 kids showed up--insanity. Just me and 91 Junior High kids. But I've been corralling kids since I was a kid, so I can handle this. We played Crossover before breaking into smaller groups. I showed everyone how to finger-weave potholder headbands and then passed out mountains of the loops. Last week I bought $50 of pastel, neon and 'Merica colored loops for this crowd. We had enough! Most of the group got to make two headbands.

About half way through FBC some of my fav HS girls and FBC alumni showed up. Natty B, Katy P, Rachel and Maddy are rock stars and have been with FBC since the beginning. Actually this group of four is extra special because we've got a Senior, Junior, Sophomore and Freshmen. 

FBC is also extra special this year because these 11 boys showed up and they are stoked. I had a couple  of their moms emailing and texting me about signing up their sons. These guys already paid the $10 to join and can't wait to come back next week. I love it. Most of them are the little brothers of YL kids and they're awesome.

I'm always thankful when my 8th grade girls come back to FBC. It's just one more chance to hang out with them since I don't get to see them as often now that their classes and lockers are upstairs. It's going to be a good year in the FBC. Several of the kids are already asking about ordering the sweatshirts. If anyone has a good idea for this year's design let me know!

After school I found two exciting things in my mailbox-- a letter from camper Hallie Roth and the photo book I've been waiting for! I had a coupon to make one last week on Shutterfly and choose all my favorite pictures from the summer. I wish I had started doing this when I first became a counselor.

Staff training...

Session 1...

Session 2...

Session 3...

Warriors and Blazers...

I was barely home for ten minutes before I got back in the car to meet Maddy and Natalie at Kroger to do some grocery shopping for the first Wyld Life Club of the year-- the ICE CREAM WAR!

We bought 25 tubs of ice cream along with milk, chocolate syrup, bananas, frosting and 200 spoons. Everything you need for a good ice cream war right? Everyone around us in the check out line asked if they could come to our party.

We used HS kids as helpers at Wyld Life Clubs last year as we were starting out but have refined our methods and developed a better plan. It's a huge advantage that we now have Juniors and Seniors in our program. Hannah, Maggie, Mariah, Natalie, Maddy, Chad, Cefali, Brannt and Jacob are YL kids that are committed to come to Campaigners and Wyld Life Club, grow in their faith and serve Junior High kids. They're helping brainstorm themes, leading games, co-leading our small groups and doing other behind the scenes things to help. Tonight they greeted every car that pulled into the park with insane enthusiasm.

I was so pumped for Wyld Life to begin again. We had such an awesome time with our kids last year and hoped that the enthusiasm would just keep growing.

Now we have a huge group of 8th grade that already love Wyld Life and many of them went to camp this summer with our leaders. They know they love Club and can't wait to be back.

The crazy thing about a Junior High of just 7th and 8th graders is that we'll have a 50% turn over every year. But the good news is that doesn't seem to be a problem yet. Our 7th graders showed up in mass amounts last nights.

These kids have heard what YL is all about and how much fun it is through their siblings, on Instagram and in the hallways at school. Now they get to have their own stories, pictures at club, small group talks and memories of running to throw ice cream on their friends.

Wyld Life has become part of our community. I love that. It's the coolest thing to get to be part of something so much bigger than me. I get to work with a team of leaders that loves God and wants to share that with kids that we love. We get to show them how to live this life to the full.

I love when Camp Tecumseh kids become HSJH and YL kids too. Izzy was a Choctaw camper with me two summers ago and I was thrilled when she came to Club tonight. I love when these parts of my life Overlap.

We gathered everyone on the playground to get a picture before Club officially began. It was difficult to get everyone in the shot but you get the idea. After having 91 kids at FBC I was confident we'd have over 100 at Club tonight. Three of our committee moms came to collect contact info as the kids arrived and got our official headcount of 192 Junior High kids.

We have been so lucky to have such huge turn outs at Wyld Life events. This isn't the case in so many areas. I have friends that lead in a lot of different areas and it wouldn't be strange for them to have weeks with 20 or 30 kids at a Club. Young Life's success isn't measured by numbers but by the relationships we're building as we point kids to Christ.

We sing songs together at the beginning that any of them would know. Tonight we sang Home by Phillip Phillips and Ho Hey by the Lumineers-- songs they've heard on the radio and know all of the words to.

Then we pre-select kids for our upfront games so that we get to let these kids shine. We've got guys and girls from both 7th and 8th grade up here doing silly things like having a spelling bee with chocolate syrup. Spelling "fajita" with runny chocolate is a lot more difficult than you would expect.

We spread 200 spoons out all over the field and then sent the kids out to collect as many as they could. (Any Camp Tecumseh people think this sounds a little bit like Gold Rush?) The girls brought spoons back to Maddy's bucket and the guys threw theirs into Brannt's bucket. Nothing like a little friendly gender competition.

Milly and Jake caught some frogs while they were out looking for spoons.

Next we invited Maddy and Matthew, two of the loudest and most friendly kids you'll meet, up for a banana in milk bobbing contest. Each of them climbed up on the picnic table and then went crazy as they got out every chunk of banana.

It was hilarious to see them with the milk all over their face, but my favorite part was watching all of the kids and leaders cheering them on. I love when we can set up opportunities for kids to be celebrated like this.

Our last big game was a team race. Each kid had pink frosting smeared on their face. Then they put their face on a plate of marshmallows which stuck to the frosting. Next they ran down the aisle in the middle of the crowd to either KCraig or Natty B on the other end. They had to shake their face to get the marshmallows to fall off on their team's plate. Then they ran back to get more marshmallows.

Everyone had a front row seat to the action as they cheered for their friends.

Ashley, Izzy, Dante, Jackson, Gavin, Brigid and Mia are all champs. This was the first time six of them had ever been to a club-- nothing like jumping right into the action.

Alex gave the Club talk tonight. I love when she gets the opportunity to do this. She is so good at sharing her story with Christ and making it relatable to kids. We looked at these verses from the Message tonight,

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

One of the best parts of Club is when we break up into small groups. Tonight each group was led by an adult and HS leader. We threw questions out to the kids and let them talk more about all of these ideas. For some of these kids, this is their first experience with anything God-related. And even for kids who have grown up in the church this might be radically different than anything they've done before.

Finally, it was the moment everyone was waiting for. The kids charged the field and raced to get to the tubs of ice-cream. Chocolate marshmallow swirl and orange sherbet flew through the air. We picked up chunks of chocolate and strawberry to wipe them across our friends faces. Ice cream dripped in my hair and splattered across my shirt. This is the way to have an ice cream war.

It didn't take long for the ice cream buckets to become hats. Our fingers were numb from the ice cream but we kept running around to find chunks on the ground to attack our friends with.

A legit food fight like this is something you always dream about as a kid and I love that we get to make it happen on such a huge scale. Is there anything as awesome as getting so disgustingly dirty and sticky with your 200 best friends?

We herded everyone back to the playground for an after picture. I love Wyld Life.

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