Posted by: sarahkennedy33 | August 9, 2009

Houseboats 2009

I learned a lot this past week, some very valuable lessons in fact, that I will now share with all of you 🙂
Lessons Learned:
1. When sleeping with 60+ high school students, ear plugs are a must.
2. Being in charge of ensuring that everyone on a boat of 20 high school boys gets a fair amount of food at each meal is a very daunting task.
3. Sleeping on the deck of a houseboat with a full moon and a sky that is painted with a bajillion stars is spectacular. So is waking up with the first glimpses of the sun coming over the mountains.
4. Sharing a camp with another denomination whose theology of outreach is very different than your own church’s can be problematic–especially when the other church got to bring the camp speaker for the week.
5. Gallon jugs of milk can be kept frozen in coolers packed with dry ice for 5 days and still be good to drink.
6. Grapes may be a healthy snack but are also the perfect size for high school students to throw at one another…or you…or whoever is walking by–they then get stepped on and ground into the decks of houseboats.
7. Baking fresh baked cookies for 120 people takes hours–especially when half your ovens don’t work.
8. Hair can be washed in a lake, not exceptionally well, but definitely better than nothing!
9. Hours of entertainment can be provided to kids by giving them buckets of water they can dump on unsuspecting people who walk through their boat.
10. I LOVE doing ministry with my husband–serving in different ways but in the same community. I loved him being there with me, seeing him connect with these boys (he is wonderful with them!) and having him wander through the kitchen to see how I was doing.
11. Youth ministry, if you let it, will break your heart. The pain in these kids’ lives is unreal, and the reality of God’s grace becomes that much more real when we realize how absolutely crazy He is about these kids.

If you couldn’t tell it has been a full week! Chuck and I spent the week as chaperones and kitchen crew of Glendale Presbyterian’s annual youth group houseboat trip to Lake Don Pedro, outside of Merced, CA. Every year the church takes a group of kids (this year we had about 23 from GPC plus a handfull of adults) and joins with another church (who brough about 50 kids this year, plus their leaders) and rents 7 houseboats for a week of swimming, inner tubing, wakeboarding, playing, messy games, and times of worship. It was a phenomenal idea for a summer camp, the kids love it! I went up as part of the 7 member kitchen crew, whose job it was to feed 125 people 3 meals a day, plus a snack and a dessert. No peanut butter and jelly either, the menu was much more impressive! Our days started at 6 AM with breakfast prep and went to about 10:30 when we finally had all desserts delivered to each houseboat. We got a few hours off in the afternoon to rest and play but we definitely worked hard! Chuck went with the high school boys as one of their leaders, staying on the boat with 18 guys. He spent hours playing games, talking, wakeboarding, tubing and hanging out with these guys, showing them how much God loves them. It was a beautiful week and I’ll be excited to go again next year! Here is the story of our week in pictures:

I left on Monday with the crew, but first we had to organize and pack all the food for the whole week. Kids came to help us carry and load a uhaul truck filled with food. But first, they decorated all the watermelons with sharpies. Austin, Caroline and Rachel drew a picture of Melissa on one (one of the youth leaders)How do you cook for this many people? You pre-cook everything! Susan has done this trip for about 8 years now and has this down to a science. Everything (baked beans, marinated chicken, carne asada for burritos, chocolate cake mixes, etc) were all pre cooked and then frozen in the church’s freezers. Then, everything was packed into 13 coolers according to which meal we would need that food item for. Each cooler was filled with dry ice and labeled with “Tuesday Dinner” etc on top so we never opened the coolers for the end of the week before we got to that day. Amazingly enough even gallons of milk which were used for our last breakfast stayed fresh and frozen all week. It was quite the operation! So each meal we would pull out what we needed, let it sit in the sun to thaw, and then cook each boat’s food in their ovens. It was a lot of work but it went very smoothly!Taylor helps load up the lemonade coolersSunrise that first morningAssembling the giant trampolineThey’re here! All 6 boats were linked together and then connected to our big staff boat and the whole row was staked and tied to the shore. So these boats didn’t go anywhere all week, we stayed in the cove where swimming, the trampoline etc were all set up. There were about 6 ski boats that took groups of kids out during 4 different time slots throughout the day for innertubing and wakeboarding. Enjoying the trampline and blob.Chuck and Matt head out with Henry for some inner tubing.Henry taking out a group of GPC-ers to inner tube on the hot dogGeorge and Michael launching Monica off the blob.The GPC girls chatting and floatingLunch prep one day–each boat received food on their boats for each meal, so we laid everything out in our boat first before delivering it. This day was chili dogs, cheese, chopped onions, chips, oreos, grapes and fruit by the foot.Oh, and lemonade–Dan and Kyle mixed a LOT of lemonade this week!Elpidio grilled a ton of hotdogs this day!Every afternoon they had 6 different kids, one representing each boat, complete the obstacle course. Step one, walk across this wood pannel on the side of a boat without falling off while getting pelted with a hose from above and incredible hulk punching gloves from the side. (most kids ended up in the water, where they swam to step two)Make your way across the lily pads.Climb up on the trampoline and get past whoever was up there blocking your way. Touch the blob without getting tossed into the water.Climb out and ride a bike down the dirt hill into the water for your splash down finish. We are proud to announce that the GPC girls boat came in first at the end of the week when they averaged everyone’s times!Group bath time! Every afternoon there was a collection of people outside our staff boat shampooing hair, using body wash, and yes, even shaving their legs. It was great bonding time 🙂Chuck playing a game with the boysI went out one afternoon to take pictures of the GPC boys wakeboarding. Chris and George are ready!Zach was awesome!Of course George rocks the wakeboardChuck was just learning, and seemed to enjoy his time wake surfing better (which is different than wake boarding, but I didn’t go that day to take pictures)In order to avoid doing a bazillion dishes, Susan buys a ton of foil pans, and then we do a layer of aluminum foil over each pan. Everything gets sorted, cooked and served out of these foiled pans. Then for clean up, each boat had to throw away the layer of foil and bring us back the un-messy foil pan to be reused for the next meal. It worked great! Each boat got a stack of nice heavy duty plastic plates and cups which were labeled with their names and they were in charge of washing those each meal and restacking them for the next one. We learned that some freshmen boys have not yet figured out how to wash dishes and the seniors were giving lessons half way through the week when the dishes on the boy’s boats had layers of grease still on them. Ew! So here’s us prepping lasagna night–pulling apart garlic rolls and foiling pans.On the last day I went with Monica and Clara to try wake boarding on the beginner boat. They had been wanting to try but were scared and the other female leaders didn’t really want to go, so George asked if I’d join them. Those of you who know me are probably laughing, wakeboarding is definitely NOT a Sarah-sport, but I wanted to encourage these girls to try so I agreed. They were awesome. Me, not so much.The two guys who go on the beginner boat are awesome. They only take 3 at a time and are super patient. They start you on this boom, so you are almost already out of the water when the boat takes off. Clara got it right away!Then they move you to the short rope, still on the side of the boat.I enjoyed the floating in the water part!Ok, I am ready to try!Wait! Come back boat!!Ok, managed to hang on this time!I even got up on the short rope. Not so much when they moved me to the long rope at the back of the boat! Lots of face planting and water up the nose!Each night they had “club” on the roof of the first 2 houseboats, where they’d do messy games, a couple songs and our speaker would speak. This game involved the girls breaking raw eggs into a paper cup that the boys had to hold in their mouths. Messy games work well on a houseboat cuz after each game the kids just went and jumped in to clean off!Last morning, GPC boys boat pulling out. Bye boys!


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