Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Youth Counselor Hi-Jinks

I have written before (The Youth Ministry Team) that one of the great joys of serving the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee was working with the group of Youth Counselors who made up the Youth Ministry Team (YMT). We had a lot of fun together at our monthly gatherings and occasional retreats, and today I want to tell you two stories about those times together.  The names changed over the years, but their love for Christ and the teenagers we served never did.

I am not sure at what point this happened, but at some point during my time at FUMC-K it became tradition for our YMT to meet in the Youth Room and to have lots of food.  Fruit, cookies and Pizza Rolls were most always part of the deal.  It was my bribe to help keep youth counselors, and I think for the most part it worked!  The other tradition that developed over time concerned the agenda for our meetings.  Each month I would bring an agenda of topics to be discussed and have on for every YMT member.  But here was the kicker- once the meeting began, the order in which we would discuss those topics was decided by Becky Watson McCleery (at the head of the table in picture above, with hubby Michael, Karen Fry and Carol Kraus- this was at a YMT Christmas dinner at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.  I knew how to bribe that group...).  How she received this power I don't remember.  I just know that she had control.  Others were allowed to lobby for things they thought sounded interesting, but Becky had the final power.  It kept meetings interesting and unpredictable- which are both things that should always be true of student ministry!

Story number two concerns one of our YMT retreats, held at a time-share out near the Disney Crossroads.  How did we get a weekend at a major vacation destination?  We couldn't afford the place, but I had received an offer to come take a tour and hear their sales pitch, and you in return they offered a free weekend in their condos.  So I took one for the team, spent a morning not buying a time-share, and then just paid the upgrade to get us into a condo big enough for our team.  It was awesome.  And we were still within our budget until I sent some of the team grocery shopping.  Led by the mad shopper herself, Jill Painter, and the equally bad Darin Miller, they spent a fortune on groceries and snacks.  I remember there were hilarious stories of the team fighting over what to get while in the store, but I do not remember specifics.  Despite the blown budget, we had a wonderful weekend and came up with our very first mission statement as a team.  It read like this:

At the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee Youth Group we are dedicated to establishing an environment which is safe, caring and accepting.  This environment will be Christ-centered and will enable youth to take ownership of their own faith and strive for continued growth in Christ.

We didn't always do everything right; if you have been paying attention to this blog at all you know that is true!  But I have said it before and I will say it again- our YMT from Kissimmee for those 6 years was the best group of adults working with teenagers I have ever seen.  They played, worked and worshipped with equal passion, and our students felt the love.  I hear from them often that they still do.  I would try to list all of the Youth Counselors from those years, but I know I would leave someone out.  So I just say THANK YOU to all of them.  It's not often you can humbly say "together we changed the world."  But you know what- we did change it in the name of Jesus for the youth we served.  Can't do much better than that...

Because of Jesus,


  1. A fantastic YMT indeed :)

  2. Anonymous8/31/2010

    I was wondering when that episode was going to come out! Good times! Although I'm pretty sure that I had help from Cathy Thacker and Karen Hall Gould during that shopping spree. Did you really think we would come back with your change? :) Jill

  3. I thought Cathy was with you; I had forgotten Karen was there! And no, I knew there was no hope of getting any change. Another great time shared with you, Jill. Thanks again!

  4. Anonymous8/31/2010

    I plead the 5th!!! I laugh everytime I read this and remember all the great times! Keep up the great job because my memory isnt as keen as it used to be!!!! :) Karen

  5. Anonymous9/02/2010

    I forgot about that absolute power I had. You have an amazing memory. We did have some fun times! Now I have a youth of my own attending youth group. Becky


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