Saturday, September 8, 2012

CIA/ETM the church with C.A.K.E.

Sooooooo,  as I'm typing this entry, I really should be out in Group Campsite 'C' at Charleston Lake P.P. with 34 others holding our CIA/ETM kickoff Camping weekend.  

I should be......(sorry Annette for the should : ) ), but I'm not.  Instead, I'm at home, sitting at my couch with my laptop, listening to the pouring rain behind me, watching semi-final tennis in front of me (which incidentally was just suspended due to bad weather closing in), and typing this entry.  

Some days ago, as I was planning for this weekend, I noticed the weather wasn't going to be the greatest.....but it wasn't going to be bad big deal.  We've gone camping in rain before......until a parent coming with me alerted me to the ever deteriorating conditions coming up. 

After some thought and discussion with a Youth Leader, we decided to cancel our camping and go to PLAN B.  This is the result of that PLAN B, and quite frankly, I think it turned out better than PLAN A would have been....for several different reasons. 

First, some of the youth in our group that wouldn't have been able to if we were camping were able to join us last night. 

Second, the make up of the weekend ended up being a bit more challenging for us and we were able to bless people that we wouldn't have been able to do while camping. 

As a side note, our Boys Club counsellors and kids did decide to go camping this weekend.  I'm so glad they are camping at a cottage where they had the option to be indoors...this rain would have washed them out otherwise........but I digress.......

So, without further adieu, let's take a look at some pictures and read about what transpired during our over niter, C.A.K.E. experience (complete with a couple of comments from our young people about their experience).  

We began with dinner at 6:00 pm.  I purchased the food, and began cooking spaghetti with meat sauce, and vegetables.  It turned out ok actually, and we had enough food. 

As I was cooking, Annette came into the church.  We had been joking that since we weren't going to be going camping, we should simply set up our tents inside (providing they didn't need pegging down).  Annette took that suggestion seriously  : )   

She put up a couple of tents and brought helium filled balloons.  I thought it was awesome, and a great way to set the mood for the weekend.  Upbeat and original......

Sadly, her kids didn't think the same.  I think they need a dose of fun and humour injected into their veins.....  : ) I loved it Annette, for the record, and so did many others. : ) 

The finished product.  Annette will sleep in the tent on the right, Wilma on the left.  

Melanie waiting for people to arrive to take attendance and get some $$, and tell everyone where their sleeping arrangements are.  

Once everyone arrived, dinner was served.  

I have no idea what Alexa is doing to Carraugh, but it doesn't look that food friendly.  

Chris enjoying his second helping of spaghetti.  Apparently he didn't have a very big first helping, but I saw it, and I beg to differ.....

Everyone sitting down and enjoying the meal.  

It seems that Tobie didn't like the food that much, but Kevin made her sit until she finished her plate.  Fun to watch.....

Just sitting down and relaxing....or not....

After cleaning up dinner, we moved into the sanctuary for some worship time.  Hannah, Sarah, and Jacob lead us in worship....nice job on the drums Jacob, you multi-talented man you.  

Though our group is small in number compared to some youth groups,  the 30 of us praised God in song and it was a good start to the evening's activities.  

We then moved into the fellowship hall and spent some time getting to know each other better by pairing up with someone we didn't know as well (hard for some in this group) and sharing our summer experiences together.  

 Casey, Chris B, Sawyer and Tori finishing off their time together.  Nice face Chris...

Steffi and Megan H.  

The adults took it upon themselves to interrogate Kevin for some reason.

We gathered together in a circle and introduced our friend to the group.  Some great comments about summer time experiences.  Swimming being the most fun thing, listening to Justin B, maybe not....  : ) 

A group hug, but I don't think Maddi is enjoying being smothered.   

During the planning of PLAN B, Annette came up with the idea of integrating prayer and worship into the evening.  We decided to run that along side the other stuff we were going to be doing.  Our youth were invited to sign up to do the following: 

  1. Watch a video on "Why I choose to believe the Bible"
  2. Read the Bible out loud for 1/2 hour
  3. Play the piano or another instrument and sing along, or not. 
  4. Pray together, or silently.....

There were 30 minute time slots and during that slot, one of those 4 activities would be going on.  Now, I must confess that I wasn't sure how this would be received by a youth group that is still growing in these areas, but to my surprise every slot ended up being filled. They continually amaze me.  

While the prayer and praise time was underway, the rest of the group participated in a classic game of Whack!  Kevin duct taped the entire whack stick we are using, so it's actually more painful now than it has ever been.  A couple of people opted out (me included), but most actually like this game.....

Here is Jacob reading from the Gospel of John.  

Here are some of the group simply listening to Jacob read.  Neat. Jacob told me afterwards he had never really done that before and it was a good experience for him.  Nice to hear.  

It seems that some time ago I put a clip up of Kevin and Hannah duking it out about some lame topic...just for fun of course.  They started talking about that, and then began to argue about something else, and somehow the whack stick became a tug of war rope.  Here they are ready to see who could win that tug of war, with Megan refereeing.  

It was fun to watch Kevin be duped by Hannah, who let go of the stick just as Megan said "go".  : )  Sneaky.....

After the group game, there was time for more individual games.  As usual, a game of Settlers of Catan broke out....I don't get that game......and what's with the funny face Megan......

 Time for some Chess.....such a small board though....

The younger aged of our youth group took the time to sit together in their room and fill themselves with all kinds of candy....I bet that stuff was better consumed by Tobie..  : ) 

 Saturday morning was going to be a time for us to perform a C.A.K.E.   What is a C.A.K.E.  Well, it's actually R.A.K.E. renamed by yours truly.  Random Acts of kindness Everywhere has been a buzz word for many years.  We've done them as a youth group before.  

However, when one thinks about what we do, AND why we do it, C.A.K.E. seems more appropriate.  Contrived Acts of Kindness Everywhere.  We actually put some planning into this stuff, and we pray before we go that hearts will be touched and changed in the name of Jesus, so really, these acts are not random to us, but Contrived....and C.A.K.E is a great acronym as well.  In the picture above Lucy and Miranda are helping cut out cards we give away.  Others helped blow up balloons and tie strings to them.  

 Here's Sawyer, Fontana, Jacob and David blowing up balloons...we'll, actually David isn't......  : ) 

The end result.  A lot of hot air in those balloons.  : ) 

 As the evening moved towards midnight our prayer and praise vigil continued.  Some began to do artwork as well, and others just relaxed and listened to what was going on during worship time.  

 Sandy decided to catch up on the news.  He's a parent who came for the night....thanks Sandy.  

 At midnight, we wrapped things up and put everyone to bed.  We wanted them awake for C.A.K.E. (hey that rhymes).  Apparently Wilma snores quite loudly (sorry Wilma, but you did mention it...a lot....), so Annette and her moved her tent away from Annette's....

The groupies just about to be shooed off to bed.  Glad to see them talking with each other and getting to know each other.  

Breakfast was set for 8 am.  It came quickly.  I was awoken at  3 am by thunder and lightening.  Good thing we stuck with PLAN B.  : )  Gaelen isn't much of a morning person..that's for sure...and sleeping so close to your shoes...eeeewwww

Casey got into the tenting mood as well.  He brought his tent from when he was a much smaller person.  I think he slept in a ball all night long and woke up with a kink in his neck.  Great weekend spirit though Casey.  Well done!  

 Remember the girls filling themselves with sugar....witness the crash..... : )  Good morning too Alexa....

Cheryl is a parent of kids in our group as well.  She was going to go camping, but wisely alerted me to the inclement weather.  I also discovered she's not an evening person, but is a morning person.  Having said that, she did stay much later than I thought she would on Friday night (yes, she unashamedly went home to her own bed last night).  

She arrived Saturday morning and cooked the pancakes...thanks Cheryl...and thanks for letting Sandy stay with us overnight  : )  

 Wilma and Melanie getting their coffee fix......very necessary after a night with youth.  

Breakfast is served. 

 Time for more worship before heading out.  

 After explaining a bit more about why we do these C.A.K.E. events, we set the group loose and they blessed the city of Ottawa in the following ways:

1. Handing out balloons to children.  They started out at Bayshore mall, but were asked to move on (I thought that might happen).  They ended up.....

 at IKEA and were able to hand out all 100 balloons.  Lots of very happy kids.  Annette was able to talk with a police officer who was almost in tears because of what we were doing.  He often sees the "other" side of teenagers, and he was very moved by watching what we were doing.  

 2.  Handing out Carnations to people.  Here's Alexa standing at the doors of Bayshore mall ready to make someone's morning.  

That's a cool shot actually.  
3.  Some simply opened doors for people coming and going in the mall.  Interestingly enough, they and the carnation givers didn't get told to leave.  hmmmmm

 An interesting shot.  We have no idea how Spider Man and Cinderella were, but obviously they were willing to pose for the picture.  

Apparently one of our group was also able to bless our Mayor of Ottawa with a carnation.  Neat.  

The final group stayed at the church and went to the parking lots of Food Basics and Loblaws with umbrellas to help people stay dry walking to and from their cars.  

At the beginning Ben was only able to help one person...and then it stopped raining.  They returned to the church.  After about 45 minutes I encouraged them to go to Loblaws and help out with groceries, etc. While they walked, I prayed for rain. Shortly, the skies opened and it poured for a good 1/2 hour.  : )   

Upon the groups return, some decided to take advantage of the natural made pools of water and get soaked.  

And get soaked they did.  I managed to escape being dragged into that fray.....this time.... : )  

 When everyone returned, we shared some of the highlights of our C.A.K.E. time. Below are two YP's thoughts. 

Going out and giving out flowers was a really cool experience. You get to know how people act in those situations quite quickly. I found a lot of young people didn't want the flowers, unless they had a kid. Elderly people were more open to accepting the flowers and one lady even told me "This has brightened my day, thank you so much!" 

It was nice to be able to go and reach out to people in such a simple yet effective way. People don't see these "contrived" yet totally random acts of kindness and when they do, and when they accept it, it really can change their mood for the day and their heart. It's one of those things I'm glad I was part of.

I really enjoyed doing the C.A.K.E. event. I had never done a R.A.K.E. or C.A.K.E. event and it was really cool.  In my group I held open doors for people. Although this may not sound like much, everybody who walked through our doors either had a look of confusion or were smiling widely.  That coupled with handing out flowers to them right before or after they walked through the door really seemed to make their day. 

But I think we may have gotten some husbands in trouble for not buying their wives enough flowers. :) We did that for about 45 mins. and then we walked to the food court where we tried to have conversations with strangers, some people had more success then others. Some of us then decided to get some coffee from Starbucks and the cash person asked what we were doing, I told her we were from our church youth group and were doing R.A.K.E. I then gave her a flower and she seemed to appreciate that because she gave me a free hot chocolate. 

So all in all I think that C.A.K.E. is a good thing and I am glad that we will be (apparently) be doing more of it as a youth group this year.
Chris B

So that brings us to the end of our PLAN B.  All in all, I'm actually glad it rained, and I discovered afterwards that several of our youth were glad too, because they liked the things they did during this weekend.  God works in mysterious and wonderful ways.  

We now begin our youth group season with a parents only evening this Tuesday, and then CIA begins the Tuesday after.  

Our hope is to do more C.A.K.E.  and to be challenged in our small groups to dig deeper into the scriptures through memorizing the Bible, sharing our life stories a.k.a. testimonies, and getting more real with each other about what our spiritual walk really looks like.  

If you are from Calvin CRC, please pray for these, the youth of your church community.  Pray for your youth leaders who meet with them weekly, (and while you are at it, GEMS leaders, Boys Club, Friendship, Church School teachers, etc.).  

We look forward to a year of growth and challenge together.  Until next time......................