Thursday, July 10, 2014

On An Adventure I Went

The last Saturday of June, I went on an adventure. I, along with one other adult, packed seven young people, and all of our luggage, into a van and began a two day half-way-across the country trek. Our final destination was Greenville, Illinois: home to Greenville College.

The young people, who ranged in age from 11 to 18 years old, were a part of our church’s Bible Quiz team. Rather than bore you with the details of what Bible Quizzing is about, let me point you to this excellent description. 

The trip went safely, despite that incident in the parking lot of a Chick-fil-A in Pennsylvania. On of our younger travelers exited the van carrying his electronic game. Using peripheral vision, he followed the group as we headed in to eat lunch. He was doing fine, until he reached a particularly challenging moment in his electronic universe. At which point he lost all contact with the reality around him and stopped walking-- in the middle of the parking lot. Consequently causing a line of cars to form through the parking lot and halfway up the highway.

It took multiple people calling out the youngsters name before he finally realized the dire predicament he was in. He stepped out of the line of traffic and immediately refocused on his game. This led the adults to give some serious directions to the entire group on what was expected when walking through parking lots.

I have worked with teenagers for decades. In all that time, I have learned one important thing when giving directions, repeat everything, repeatedly. This is important, especially when dealing with teenagers. This age group seems especially prone to either an excess buildup of earwax, an overactive ability to tune out the adult voice, or they are easily prone to distractions. So, when directions are given, it is important to repeat, and after repeating, ask the teen to repeat the directions back. Then, when the teen realizes they have no clue, repeat the process again, until they seem to have a clue.

This direction giving, along with the confiscation of all hand held electronic games, prevented any further parking lot mishaps and ensured the health and safety of the younger members of the group, along with preventing stress headaches and panic attacks amongst the adults.

It was enjoyable to laugh with each of the teens. I have known one of the graduating seniors, whom I will call Joe, since that is his name, since he was in seventh grade. He holds the dubious distinction of being the only person I have had to reprimand for playing tug-o-war with a chair in the middle of a Sunday School class.

Joe has matured into a fine young man, with an amazing sense of humor. He took this picture of me when I felt safe on the trip.

During the quizzing competition, a competing team introduced one of their team mates and mentioned that the young lady had the nickname “Pumpkin”. The young lady did not look thrilled about the name, so I mentioned, “It appears as if you want to squash your new nick name.”

She nodded yes, vigorously.

Joe, who, as I mentioned before, is now a mature young man, leaned back in his chair, stroked his bearded chin (I told you he was mature) lightly and said, “I wonder where that nickname stems from?” (I told you he was funny).

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