By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister; Photos by Sonia Katchian
Another year of EYC has begun and three things have caught my attention:
Changing up the Kick-off event was a good call from the Youth Commission. The past few years, EYC has met up at the Meadowmont Y pool for lunch and swimming, but this year we ate lunch at Holy Family and then headed out to Camp Chestnut Ridge for “Initiative Games” and hanging out. Initiative Games create safe and accessible scenarios that foster trust and teamwork. Like, build the tallest freestanding tower you can with these random PVC parts. Or, get this ordinary marble down the hill without touching it and only using these plastic tubes. Or, get your entire team from here to there, only stepping on these “marshmallows,” which sink the second someone stops standing on them. Simple. Fun. Challenging. And by late afternoon when we released folks to hang out, some went swimming, some played volley ball, and some bouldered on the rock wall, but no one got left out! It was a great way to kick off the EYC year and hopefully a new tradition for years to come.
This past Sunday was the first night of EYC, so of course there was lots of newness: new youth, new mentors, new names to learn, new events to hear about, and new stories to share from summer or for the coming year. New! But, surprising familiar, too. You see, since last January, a few youth, a few mentors, and myself have been working towards a common vision: how can we be an intentional Christian community on Sunday evenings; how can we be an Episcopal Youth Community. And last Spring we rolled out subtle and sometimes sizable tweaks and tried out a few ideas. And sometimes nothing changed or felt different, and sometimes things felt clunky and we muddled through. But this past Sunday night, it was like the new rhythms and patterns of our common life just ‘clicked.’ We ate together, worshipped together, prayed together, played together, and shared our time and lives with each other. Is this a taste of things to come? Perhaps. Perhaps God is on the move among us!
A high schooler caught me off guard recently: she pulled me aside at a youth event and asked, “Who are the new ones?” “Excuse me,” I said. “Who are the new youth? I want to welcome the new youth.” And she then proceeded to introduce herself to one, hug one, and eat dinner with another. Perhaps God is on the move among us. But surely God’s up to something in this young woman’s life!
As we begin a new year of EYC, pray that God will be on the move, knitting us together in Christ.