Tip: Take the seniors away for one last hoorah!
Have you ever wished you had just one more minute to tell them one more thing? Yeah, me too. Early in me career as a youth pastor, I notice former students struggling in the early years of college. they weren’t connecting with campus ministries. They we’re attending a church. They struggled with the pressure of drinking, sex, and procrastination.
As I saw students, not not just my students, I realized that they hadn’t been properly prepped for the college experience. This realization prompted an idea.
There is one thing that seniors, for decades have longed for. Growing up on the east coast, (What’s up Philly?) seniors always talked about SENIOR WEEK! Senior, much like the college “spring break” is a week where the high school graduates take off for the beach for a week of “rest and reflection.” Typically this is their first unchaperoned trip which often comes with it’s share of issues. Personally, I did not make it to senior week, but friends of mine did. And it was something that I always thought would be a fun trip to do with students.
So I combined the two. I planned a “Senior Week” beach trip, that also provided me with a few extra minutes to spend with my students before they were off to college.
The trip served a couple of purposes.
1. It was the final hoorah for a group of students who were a significant part of our lives and our ministry. It was as much a thank you trip as it was a, “let’s get out there and have some fun” trip. It was precious time talking with these students, separated out and away from the daily routines. It was a fun trip. A trip where the students set the agenda. Beach time, mini golf, where to eat, what to do. It was their week, so they made a lot of the decisions.
2. It was captured time to spend with only them. Since we all stayed in the same beach house, we were always together. That togetherness afforded us significant to to talk. Each evening we got together in the living room for a devotion and to read one of my favorite college prep books and talk about what can be expected as the begin college. It was a sweet time of one-on-ones and honest, mature discussion.
3. It was a time to help them prepare spiritually for the college experience. There is often a lot that we want to say to our graduating seniors, but our weekly youth meeting aren’t always the best places to say it. This trip provide that special time to talk openly and honestly with our seniors about what they could expect to see, hear, and have to deal with when they arrive on campus. It was also the perfect opportunity to impress upon them the importance of getting connected with campus and local ministries. (I will share what this conversation looks like in another post coming next week to the blog.)
It didn’t take long for this trip to become one of my favorite youth ministry trips. Of course, spending a week at the beach helps a little too.
If you are able to, take a final trip with your graduating seniors. It doesn’t have to be a trip to the beach, but it doesn’t hurt either.