Monday, February 20, 2012

In which I party with high school kids

I spent the weekend at a high school youth retreat.

A high school youth retreat at a mega-church is something that still throws me into culture shock, even though this was my fourth one. It's kind of insane. As in, in this group they write and film their own comedy sketches that are most of the time actually brilliant, so brilliant that the guy that headed that initiative up now is up at Chicago's Second City.

D-Town 2011_187

As in, the Saturday night late-night fun is filled with massive bounce houses, karaoke, the fat-suit sumo wrestling outfits, etc.

ManiAACsAs in, Jason Castro and the Dallas Maverick's Maniaacs showed up unexpectedly (not at the same time!). I had no idea who the Maniaacs were, but you really never know what's coming next so when portly middle-aged men got on stage I was just ready to see what would happen next. I wasn't even surprised when they started dancing around in torn t-shirts. My jaw DID drop when they started throwing out beaded necklaces to kids that were going nuts in the audience, and I was just hoping the kids had no idea what the connotation of that is!

So funny. The good thing is that the group now reflects a little more diversity than the north Dallas bubble sometimes does. I just try not to think what my Papuan friends would think of all the things these kids get to experience on a youth retreat, and remember that within the culture here in North Dallas, this is the norm. Actually, it's even a striking contrast from my own life to theirs, mine in a small one-bedroom apartment and an old car with a belt that squeals when I start it up. Theirs, the children of successful business people in a successful city, currently living the privilege their parents have worked for.

And some things are universal. My girls are Juniors so they are dating, the guys groups follow them like puppies (or the reverse, just depends on the day!), there are emotions flying everywhere, lots of angst, lots of love, and lots of fun. I mean.... even when it's rough, high school is also incredibly fun, this testing of each experience as a new thing.

We made a grocery store run for chips and dip and fruit gushers at midnight, I introduced them to boba tea and jenga, and we had some great talks. We drove around in my car, which is older than they are (what?!), and which they think is amazing because they've never experienced a car that does not auto lock and unlock. They'd never had to manually roll their windows up and down!

The photo on the left was taken three years ago. My crowd of girls has decreased since I started with this group, but I've learned a lot in those years. I know them now, and they know me, and I have the credit earned by investing years into their lives. They've grown up so that what they talk about now is real life stuff that is stage 1 in independent life choices. They're a little less like girls and more like women. I have one year left before they're off to college, and I'm struck with just how quickly all of this is going. I'm still pondering some of our conversations from the weekend, still thinking of each of them and what they're currently wrestling with.

This insight into the hearts of young girls? It is a privilege.


Ana O'Reilly said...

What a marvelous experience!

Jaimie said...

I have no idea what the beaded necklaces thing means either. I'm 25, so. I don't know.

Kacie said...

Connotation is with mardi gras, in which beaded necklaces are given to women who take their tops off. :)