Headlines from First Thoughts

Friday, July 14, 2006

Youth Group

Youth group has changed a bit since I was a teenager. I had this epiphany about the time I watched my third imitation-Johnny Knoxville video clip and received fashion advice from a 9th grader. When I was a youth, there was no Johnny Knoxville. Camcorders were in two pieces—one to hold the bag for the recorder, the other to hold the camera. And boys generally did not care if they matched until age 22 or about the time their girlfriend said, “Duh! Red socks don’t go with orange pants.” All those boundaries have been crossed now. After a first-hand week in the boys’ dorm at Passport, I can officially say, “Times they are a-changin’.”

Knoxville’s own Johnny sets the terms for experimentation. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, rent one of his videos. Youtube.com has become an instant platform for home video, and the accessibility of digital camcorders places Hollywood in the hands of adolescents. And suddenly, they care about what I’m wearing. I’m not kidding. I wore an orange and blue hat with my orange and blue shoes one evening (this is camp, you know); and they did not think it matched my polo shirt and jeans. This IS camp, you know.

But this is not another one of those “kids these days” laments from an old fogie or a “blame the media” for everything article. The toys and fashion advice may have changed, but the needs are still the same. They still need an authentic place to ask questions, learn that Christ loves them just as he created them, set boundaries to follow obediently, and love others unconditionally. I caught a glimpse of that too last week. Michael and Carol McEntyre create the climate to learn, grow, be challenged, and change. Places like Passport teach the important values of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. And if that means I need to take some fashion advice from a friend, that’s ok. It makes me feel right at home.

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