Tales of a Youth Group Junkie

photos by gary hajek

Hi, my name is Tracie, and I am a youth group junkie. You may be wondering what exactly a youth group is…let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun. Most churches have organizations and clubs geared towards the teenagers to keep them engaged in the church. They usually meet one night a week for games, songs and usually a message about God. Sometimes there are weekend outings or a summer camp program. My church did it all and we had a blast.

I have to tell you right off the bat that my brother was the one who got me involved. We weren’t even going to the church at the time, but one of his friends from school asked him to go and he was having a lot of fun. So of course, his little sister wanted to get in on the act. I was six years younger; a month shy of being able to go officially. But my brother, being the nice guy that he is, asked the leaders if I could start early. They said yes and it started a 12-year commitment in the group. (A bunch of us became leaders after graduation.)

The first thing I went to was a Baltimore Blast soccer game. I was wandering around with some people at the store looking for a souvenir and got separated from the crowd. I was 11 years old in downtown Baltimore lost at the civic center. A kid named Jimmy found me and we made it back to the group. I don’t know if my brother remembers this, but I don’t remember him ratting me out to our parents (actually, he never ratted me out for anything…like I said, nice guy). Even with being lost, I loved the group and continued to go back.

We did so many things besides our weekly Wednesday night meeting. We went tubing down the river, skiing, amusement parks, concerts, camping and so many other things. Every winter in Ocean City, Maryland a bunch of churches got together for a convention. No parents, only the youth group leaders…well, maybe a few parents as chaperones. It was a really big deal. Looking back, I feel bad for the hotel. I worked in hotels for a long time, and I hate conventions; I can’t even begin to imagine a couple thousand kids running around causing trouble. Then one year we weren’t asked back and I never heard about the convention again. (No, I was not the reason we were not asked back, LOL.) Actually, they blamed our group, but as I recall, they mixed us up with another group on our floor.

Everywhere we went our youth pastor Gary would take photos and put them up on the bulletin board for all the parents to see. I hate having a serious picture taken of me, but I will certainly ham it up for the lens. At the end of the school year, we would have a big banquet with skits and at the end Gary would have a long slide show set to music of all the things we did that year. You could hear my mother gasp loudly whenever a picture of me came on the screen because I was always doing something goofy. Everyone else would just laugh. I am still the same way today.

After graduation I became a youth group leader. I wanted to pass on all the things I had to learned to the next set. We started off with the middle school bunch because they did not know us as being in group with them and it was an easy transition into leadership. They thought they could get away with so much stuff, but, having done it before them, we beat them at their own game. You couldn’t put anything over on us.

I look back on those days as one of best times of my life and I am still friends with some people from my teen years. I haven’t seen them in over 20 years, but just chatting with them on FB brings it all back. The Michael W. Smith song “Friends” was our unofficial theme song and every time I hear it, the slide show of memories floats through my mind. Sometimes, I will play the song again just to keep the memories playing in my head.

—This is actually a short synopsis of what will become a book I am working on by the same title. I have a lot of stories to tell, so stay tuned.—

***Question for the comments…were you ever part of a club as a teenager? Doesn’t need to be a church group, but an organized club. Did you like it? Hate it? What’s your best memory if you were part of it?

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Author:

Hi, I'm Tracie. I am a writer, reader, life coach, lover of the city and the beach. I am a big fan of all things caffeinated. I dig things from many different decades, but am a definite child of the 80's. My blog is about everything and anything my mind conjures up. Enjoy the ride.

18 thoughts on “Tales of a Youth Group Junkie

  1. (Y)our mother gasped when she saw you hamming it up for a photo op? 🤣🤣🤣 Where does she think you got it from? No clubs/groups for me. No opportunity when I was younger, unless Brownies/girl scouts counts. Even that was on my for like 4 years on and off. By the time I got to where I was going, too old. Doesn’t mean I didn’t do my share. Ok, I did more than my share. Difference is, Daddy as mad as he got, I knew he was proud of me for being a chip off the old block. 🤣 well, almost…🤫😉

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  2. Haha… great blog! Being as I didn’t became a believer until I was a senior in high school, I don’t have too many crazy youth group stories. Not that a couple of my friends didn’t try earlier … so I do have two 🙂 However, I have a plethora of college age youth group stories (at a public university) that are similar but not as crazy as I would later find out. Because after college, I signed up to be a high school youth group leader too! And there as a young adult, I saw and perhaps participated in many crazy antics. I am excited to read yours and relate and relive mine through your posts, Tracie! Mahalo 🤙🏼

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    1. The great thing about being a leader is they would try to sneak out of their rooms on an overnight at the church and they would find us sleeping in front of doors and all sorts of weird places cuz we knew what they were up too. But we did participate in a lot of fun stuff too as leaders 🤪

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  3. No youth group for me…I didn’t come to christ till almost 40yrs old…does going to a catholic high school count hahaha…I played pop Warner football my father was the coach…I also paddled canoe for healani, hui lanakila, and anuenue…those were the days…but since coming to christ I’ve worked with kids throughout…my first youth group started in Kona and the kids in our group asked if there was a name we went by…hope chapel Kona youth sounded so boring…so one evening during our gathering we talked about a better name and the kids kids came up with “word up you down” and that’s what we called ourselves…fun times I tell you!!!

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