Monday, June 6, 2011

7 Things: Myrtle Beach 2004

Pat O'Brien
In July of 2004 I returned to North Myrtle Beach, SC with the youth of Wesley Memorial UMC.  The Betsy B was no longer available for groups, but I found a 2-story house in the Ocean Drive section very near the Betsy.  It was across the street from the beach, but it was still a great location.  We had a great group of students, and wonderful adult leadership from  people like Josh Shapiro, Pat O'Brien, JoAnne Gastler and my wife Marilyn.  Like pretty much every youth trip ever taken, it had "huh moments" and times  of frustration that were over-shadowed by the sheer joy of spending time together in fellowship and fun.  I didn't know it at the time, but after nearly 25 years of taking groups to NMB, this would be my final visit with a student ministry.  Here are 7 Things that made that trip memorable:

1)  Normally on longer trips I rented a trailer for luggage to pull behind the church van.  Pat said for this trip he would just take his pick-up truck and we could put the luggage in the back.  I wasn't sure it would all fit, but Pat assured me it was no problem.  Unfortunately, he had never traveled with that  many kids for that length of time, and the luggage wound up stacked way too high.  To make matters worse, it was raining when we left Tampa, so it all had to be covered.  An exciting way to begin a trip...

2)  Stephanie Greife refused to go in the ocean if her feet were going to touch the bottom, so she bought a raft.  Her friends all took turns riding and pulling her around in the waves.  But the most famous bit of rafting took place indoors...

3)  In the house, the couch I slept on (it was a long standing tradition that I slept on a couch in the living room on Myrtle Beach trips) was located adjacent to the room Justin Overstreet was staying in.  Justin brought a DVD player, and I think he fell asleep every night watching The Blue Collar Comedy Tour- on repeat.  That movie is hilarious, but very difficult to sleep to...

4)  When indoors, we spent a lot of time playing my favorite card game, Cocktail.  It's a combination of Hearts and 7-UP with some homemade rules thrown in just for fun.  It's a great game to play with a group, and involves a little bit of skill and whole lot of luck.  I have played for years, but I really remember some great games from this trip!  As pictured here, you could pretty much always find a group gathered at the table.

5)  One afternoon I needed to make a Kroger's run to pick up groceries for dinner that night.  Normally on our beach trips I go grocery shopping every morning before the kids get up and buy all of the groceries for that day (because they WILL EAT everything in the house!), but for some reason this was a 2 trip day.  On the second trip a number of the older youth- Travis Aiken, Nina Mock and Jennifer Gastler among others- accompanied myself and my intern Sarah Crudele.  The quick van ride and the shopping adventure that followed were perfect examples of some of the things I loved so much about student ministry.  The closeness, fellowship and shared history made the whole week worthwhile.  Oh the stories I could tell...but I am sworn to secrecy!

6)  We had two big meals out that week, one at a seafood buffet called Captain Benjamen's and the other at my favorite Japanese restaurant, Miyabi's (formerly Kyoto's).   We had a wonderful time at both, but at Miyabi's we were treated like royalty and given special shows by our chefs.  Plus, a number of our girls were extremely sunburned and red and drew lots of comments from the crowd.  The picture at right is of all our ladies just outside the restaurant.

7)  The group was a great mixture of core kid and newcomers, regulars and long lost friends.  As always, there is nothing like sharing a house for a week to spawn new relationships and build community in a youth group.  You could really see it when we were out on the beach and in the ocean.   We were growing together.  You could see it at the arcade where they spent hours playing Dance Dance Revolution together.  You could see it late at night when we would gather for worship, followed by movies and cheesecake (Zach Wehr's dad had provided us with a bunch of high quality frozen cheesecakes. It was AWESOME!).  It was a wonderful trip.

The Whole Gang- Myrtle Beach 2004!
But it wasn't the best trip we took that summer.  The story of our mission trip to Chicago is coming next Monday.  Be blessed, everyone!

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous6/06/2011

    I've said it here before and I will say it again- your youth group took the absolute best trips!

  2. From Joanne Gastler via Marilyn's Facebook---> My comment was: Great times!! Both trips were great!! My kids still play those card games especially when we drive from Tampa to CT! Thanks for bringing a smile to my face!


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