Wednesday, September 16, 2015

All the Fun the Actuaries Allow

In Young Life we routinely sent kids to the electric chair. It was called the Hot Seat. A chair hooked up a 6 volt battery. Some games were in a quiz format with kids getting zapped for a wrong answer. Sometimes the shock came as a surprise at the end of a skit for a kid or leader. (Campus Life actually can take the credit or blame for innovating this particular stunt.)

At Woodleaf (Young Life's camp in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains) during the fall retreats, fields were watered down, if they weren't already swamps of mud. Many years ice and frost covered the field. We then played a game called Wells Fargo. The campers were divided into two teams, the Cowboys and the Indians. Each leader and high school student got a piece of tape on the forehead that became the "scalp". One of the objects of the game (along with stealing gold from the other team's "bank") was to "scalp" as many members of the other team as one could. Girls could scalp guys, but guys couldn't scalp girls. So roving band of ten or twelve girls would target guys, often bringing down linebackers. After the game, muddy campers would jump in the chilly lake to clear off. (Do I need to mention that doctors visits after a round of Wells Fargo were not an infrequent occurrence?)

A game less likely to cause physical damage (though perhaps not free of psychological damage) used a sheet and lipstick as props. Three girls and three boys were chosen as volunteers. The same lipstick was applied to each of the girls who then went behind the sheet. Small holes in the sheet revealed three pairs of lips. Each boy was assigned a pair of lips. They were told to kiss the lips and guess which girl he had kissed. The boys didn't know that each had kissed his own mother who had been asked to sneak into club.
Young Life is an interdenominational Christian organization that uses camps and clubs as a means to form relationships with High School students (and Middle School students) and present them with the Gospel. The games and skits were tools.
In I Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible... I have become all things to all people so that by all means possible means I might save some." Young Life did a lot of crazy things to win kids over because it was the  motto of founder Jim Rayburn that "It's a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel."
Of course, this was all thirty years ago. Now the insurance companies and adult committees have reined in much of the insanity that was common place.
I did some fairly stupid things as a youth pastor. Once, the church had a piano that was well past its prime. So I let kids attack it with a sledgehammer. It did make the most amazing sounds but a kid could have gotten badly injured. Not to mention the time we did bowling at color TVs.
I'm older now and currently out of youth ministry. I'd be much more cautious these days because that happens with age. Professional Youth Ministry in Churches and Parachurches has been tamed.
But I can't say I don't miss the wildness. 

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