Honey and I were two of eight adult chaperons on an overnight trip with 15 young people this weekend. All of the kids, except two, were in their teens. We went to a theme park that is around 3.5 hours away, toured a cave Saturday evening, spent the night in cabins, and then had a canoe trip on Sunday morning before heading home. We both passed on the canoe trip, but participated in the other activities.
Let me start by saying that I do not enjoy being around groups of kids. This is the main reason that I resisted going on this trip from the beginning, but relented after much begging and pleading by the youth director. It certainly didn’t help matters that every mention of the trip to anyone would result in a sarcastic “Lucky you!” or “I’ll be praying for you.” While it wasn’t entirely torturous, I certainly have a better understanding of their sentiments.
Here are some things that I learned/experienced this weekend:
1. Teenagers are weird, smelly creatures that have fart wars, constantly send text messages, and think Harry Potter is real.
2. Even though teens are gross and annoying, I still have an unexplainable need to appear cool in front of them. It was slightly humiliating when they made fun of the music that we played in the car.
3. July is not a good month to go on a trip that involves being outdoors. It was so hot, sticky, and buggy. I make no apologies for being a big wuss in this area, as I happen to think the air-conditioner is one of the most under-appreciated inventions ever.
4. It’s really hard to go to sleep when you’re fully dressed (no blanket or pillow), on a bunk bed mattress that’s so thin you can feel the boards underneath, and five laughing boys are dropping items from the second story loft onto the hardwood floor below.
5. If we ever have kids, I will be a big push-over, while Honey will be a disciplinarian. He had no problem telling them to “knock it off” when they got out of hand.
6. Palmolive works as both hair shampoo and body soap when neither are readily available.
7. It’s never a good idea to wear one’s favorite shirt on a group outing, as it’s now covered in grease that was on the tractor trailer that carried us on a hay ride to the cave we toured (I think there is supposed to be a comma in that sentence somewhere).
8. Caves are awesome. Scary, but awesome. I managed to catch a moment to myself after the rest of the group had exited, and it was interesting how being in the bowels of the earth suddenly made me feel closer to God.
9. Neither of us had ever had s’mores made the real way – on a campfire. We were discussing this fact with some other adults when one of the teen boys overheard our conversation. He immediately made two and brought them to us. His act of generosity was one of the nicest things that happened all weekend.
10. Our state has some incredibly beautiful landscape.
11. The mind has a way of dissolving bad memories while retaining the good ones. It’s been less than 24 hours since we returned, and a good night’s sleep and writing this article has made the trip seem far less miserable than it felt yesterday. There were definitely some beautiful moments that I won’t soon forget.
It’s good to be home and I don’t plan on going on any other youth trips for a long, long time. I think it’s very important for a church to have an outreach program for young people, and I hope that is is continued by those who have a knack for dealing with kids. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be me. I’ve been told that I have an old soul, and while I can act incredibly immature at times, I’m usually much more comfortable around those who are older than me.