But teenagers are scary

I’m amazed at the number of people I meet (including some training for ministry) who are at best nervous of teenagers but often actually scared of them. For a youth worker it’s strange that teenagers are viewed by some as a dangerous mutant alien species, but the reality is, that’s often how they are seen. Very sad!
There have been quite a few training situations where I’ve abandoned the lesson plan and we’ve instead had to look at, How to like teenagers? How to look beyond what teenagers look like to who they are?
A true story:
The first night of a national youth camp is always interesting. No one knows anyone and teenagers I admit can look kind of big and scary when they first arrive. At the first meal of one such event I noticed that there was no-one sitting with one of the teens. He was quite a big guy with punked up hair and a good collection of leather, studs and attitude. I headed, with some trepedation I admit, for his table.
Me: Mind if I sit here?
Him: Grunt (I took it to be a positive kind of a grunt)
Me: Hey your hair looks cool! Why do you wear it like that?
Him: I like Punk!
Me: oh (not knowing anything about punk but frantically trying to think of at least one band), what sort of bands (band pops into head) The Dead Kennedy’s?
Him (much more animated) yeah they’re great and I also really love ………
(I learnt a lot about punk in the following half an hour)

This was a few years ago now but I still remember him well and just how unscary he was when you got to know him. The more he got into camp and felt ok to be him the more of him you saw. My favourite memory of him was on the mounatin biking on Dartmoor. It was a bleak day, the rain was coming at us from all angles, we were wet, we were muddy, we were miles from anywhere and he rode up to the front with a huge friendly grin on his face and said to me (in a manner rather like a big labrador) “This is SO cool, it’s the best fun I’ve ever had!”
There is a moral to this story but I forget what it was!

Spammers really wind me up!

I’m having MAJOR problems with spammers and having to delete upwards of 30 a day from Credit cards, Casinos and the like. They REALLY wind me up. I’m feeling quite un-Christian about the whole thing. Wouldn’t be great to unleash the collective power of 5 million bloggers back at the spam saddos, how cool would that be? I know I should turn the other cheek but it’s quite fun wandering off into a fantasy of how the Bloggers might strike back. Imagine if you will the Spammers receiving 5 million pieces of snail mail that were indistinguishable from their genuine orders! Ok fantasy over, can my more technically savvy friends offer any helpful advice? Since writng this I’ve had some really depraved stuff linked to my site as trackbacks, is there an official avenue for reporting this?
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No Purpling

One of the challenges of running a residential is setting the ground rules in a way thats fun and enabling NOT a series of “Thou Shall Nots” which starts to feel like “Thou shalt not have fun!”
One of the rules that we used to have was: “No Purpling!” …. a light hearted way of saying that the girls were not allowed in the boys dorms and the boys not allowed in the girls dorms i.e the pink and the blue couldn’t mix (No Purple!)
In my last youth group this concept of purpling took on a life of it’s own and we had all catergories defined right from Mild Purpling to (if we were ever talking about sex) Extreme Purpling!, How cool is that? Worked really well too in that it made some important conversations much more accessible!

The long dark night of the blogger

Common Cold.gif I was looking forward to going to work today and manning the Youth Adviser hot desk once again but alas a “Common Cold” has left me feeling uncommonly horrible! On the plus side though being up half the night meant a couple of hours trawling in uncharted territories of the Blogosphere and in the process I found some great new blogs, chief among them was this one:
Amy Loves Books is fantastic! I don’t know how to do justice to it really but I just loved the stories she had to tell, the overflowing sense of wonder and life, the reality and the way she writes! If you’re confined to barracks today, pour yourself a double lemsip, log on to Amy’s site (go into the archives and start at Jan 04) and read an inspiring blog by the only person I’ve ever heard of who go sacked from the library for reading the books!
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On the Resolution Menu

jelly beans.jpg New Years Resolutions,you either love ’em or hate ’em eh! The start of a New Year though is a great time to reveiw, think through and to remember that, (ooh look out for the CHEESY cliche)
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”
I do note that Sarah has resolved not to be resolute, however other bloggers have put up some resolutions (nothing like a blog to keep you accountable) and as ever I wanted to be a bit helpful. So if you work with young people you can print off this handy list of resolute inspiration and decide which two or three to go for!

I will start organizing the Residential earlier

I will stop and ask why?

I will put aside time to pray for the young people

I will stop eating the tuck when setting up for youth group

I will spend some time with the teenager whose behaviour has been winding me up

I will ask for a proper budget

I will review

I will plan how I can involve young people in leadership

I will seek opportunities to learn

I will listen more

I will tell the church warden it was me that broke the window

New Years Resolutions

I’m still working on a pick ‘n Mix Smorgasbord of New Years Resolutions that’ll have something for youth workers/ministers, volunteers and paid. Not easy but interesting I reckon.
I remember reading once though:
“We tend to over-estimate what we can achieve in one year
but under-estimate what we can achieve in five years”

Wise words I reckon, It’s certainly got me thinking about AND beyond 2005 in terms of what I’d love to see develop in my area of ministry!