When families prioritize a time on their calendar for a weekend retreat for their 3rd-5th graders and discover we are unable to make it happen the way we’d originally planned, we pivot with intentionality because our 3rd graders have finally arrived. Our 4th graders should’ve arrived last year, but 2020. Our 5th graders see everything as ‘the last time’. Asking the question, “What’s in our hand?” and partnering with another local church, we planned a late night event, 4:30-9:30pm on a fall Friday night.

– 3rd-5th graders are invited to learn to grow s’more like Jesus as we travel to Mountasia for putt-putt, go-kart, and pizza then back on campus with s’mores at the fire pit. $25 per student. Chaperones free.
– Logo image built on phone through Bazaart app
– Coordinate original chaperones along with new leaders for driving, fire, tshirts, hospitality, setup, cleanup, and space arrangements on a campus used by multiple ministries on a typical Friday night.
– With the ‘bring list’ including non-typical items, we sent 3 emails before event night: one week out, 3 days out, the night before so families could make whatever arrangements were necessary.

Everything was outside except the bus ride. Dinner of 2 slices of pizza and unlimited pitchers of water (my beverage of choice) and unlimited putt-putt and go-cart time for 2 hours cost $25.10. With local Friday night football, we were the only group at Mountasia. Most of our kids were not old enough to ride alone, so this was a time of intentional relationship building between leaders and students to share a go-kart.

Students were instructed to bring
– Gas or food gift card for a mission project – a dear church family battling childhood leukemia would be delivered a gift box filled with notes written by students along with the gift cards the following Sunday
– Refillable water bottle – holy habit to take care of our bodies and the earth
– Bible – Bible study on Luke 2:52
– Closed-toe shoes (can’t go-kart without them)
– Camp/lawn chair – place to keep track of their own stuff, personal space, and to sit for Bible study

4-4:30pm Welcome, Rules, Introductions
4:30pm Assign small groups w/leaders
5-7pm Mountasia
8-8:30pm Bible study and teaching
8:30-9:15pm Split into 2 groups, with time then flip
Group 1: S’mores at the fire pit & note writing to mission family
Group 2: Breath prayer Labyrinth
9:15-9:30pm Talk to each other-1 on 1 w/ get-to-know-you and either/or questions
(students stood facing each other so they could move; release nervous energy)
9:30pm Group picture, dismissal

Bible study: Luke 2:52
The one Jesus-as-a-kid eyewitness account was placed in God’s Word especially for kids by Dr. Luke. How do we become s’more like Jesus? We spend time with others who love Jesus together in prayer (labyrinth), play (Mountasia), service (gift cards/note writing), at tables sharing food (pizza, water pitchers, s’mores), and in conversation (get-to-know-you questions).

Scripture memory: Jesus grew in…(chat through ways to grow in…)

  • Wisdom – take good care of your mind – hands on head
  • Stature – take good care of your body – arms up showing muscles
  • Favor with God and man – take good care of your heart – hands over your heart in shape of a cross.

Breath Prayer at Labyrinth w/Bible Buddy (plush s’more distributed by Ambassadors)
Lord, let me grow in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man.
The prayer labyrinth has been a labor of love and gifted by an art teacher in our church. Though unfinished due to the rain, she came to teach and practice the labyrinth journey with the students at it’s inaugural use. 

Weather was the greatest consideration of the entire week preceding, so Plan B was walked through and ready to go: gym reserved if not outside, umbrellas for labyrinth, sterno tins in glass jars for s’mores in small groups (now we can take this anywhere and share), arcade was arranged if no putt-putt/go karts running, gaga ball pit space/covered space for outdoor Bible study with camp chairs. Both Plan A and Plan B were walked through every step the week before and the day before.

Leading ministry with children and families has always required navigating multiple moving pieces, especially people and calendar resources, and requires pivot adaptability and Plan Bs. It’s what we’ve always done. It’s what we’ll always do. When done often, it builds adaptability muscles. When done well, it builds trust and integrity.

How did you spend last Friday night?