By the time Wednesday comes in a Youth Conference week, most of the Small Groups are getting to know each other fairly well, but after a couple of straight days of intense activity and little sleep, pretty much everyone is fairly tired. This is where the energizer leaders come in. It is their job every morning to make sure that the conferees (and their leaders!) are awake enough to not fall asleep during keynote. The energizer leaders for Weeks III and IV are Nick Reed and Rachel Harrod. Here you can see them at the beginning of the day about to lead the group in some eye-opening activity.
We play games in Small Groups, too. The theme of the day was "Open the Doors to Our Hearts," and dealt a lot with the idea of taking risks. Perhaps I was thinking in this vein by finally playing a game that I knew was really popular with the youth, despite some constraints of a rather small meeting space. The game is called "Never Have I Ever." Basically, whoever's in the middle says something they've never done (such as, "I've never been to New York") and anyone who had done that thing has to get up and find another seat, while the person in the middle grabs one of the vacated seats. Whoever's left without an available seat must think up something they've never done, and so on. It's one of the more action-oriented games we've played (perhaps why it's so popular).
Wednesday was our free afternoon, and besides my mom and Ruth having come out earlier, our friend Maria (formerly of Fuller, but now working on her PhD at Duke) came over from Durham to Montreat to spend some time with my wife and me. It was good to catch up, and to have a fairly quiet day away from all the activity. I've been loving it all, but it has been rather tiring!
By Thursday, I think everybody was a bit worn out, and the energizers were mercifully low-key. Here's a picture of three of the high school-aged Planning Team members as they got ready for the morning activities. From left-to-right, that's Sarah Paulson in the blue, Sarah Are (yes, the daughter of Tom Are) in the grey, and Jerry Kivett in the green, surrounded by conferees ready for the morning fun!
The Thursday theme was "The Church Door," and we started the process of turning our attention back home. What is the church supposed to be like? How do we fit into that? The scripture passage for the day was the scene from the gospel of John where Jesus washes his disciples feet, and we were asked to do a kind of "foot washing" in our Small Groups. Although I had made plans to use a section of creek near Lake Susan for this purpose, it ended up raining right at the time that I would have taken the group out to the creek. Thankfully, I had a "Plan B" handy, since the Planning Team had given us a pack of baby wipes to use for this purpose. It's not the same thing, but at least it enabled us to do something resembling a foot washing, and I think that at least some of the group found it meaningful.
Although my Small Group Leader duties are officially over most days by 4:00 pm, I've been involved in a number of other things, and generally haven't gotten to bed until midnight-ish each night. Some of the time in between has been good for updating my computer with all the pictures that I've taken over the course of the day. I've only been able to use the barest fraction of the pictures here, but it's still leading to much longer blog entries than I'd anticipated going in. I wonder how things will turn out next week when I go through this whole process again! But at least for now, it seems best to just "fit in" an extra entry....