Often, whether in the context of a weekend conference or statewide youth rally or ministering to the elders’ children in the regional federal penitentiary, you will have the opportunity to stay in a motel with the precious adolescents in your charge.
I say opportunity because I’m not accustomed to using the type of terminology that would more realistically describe the experience.
Well…I suppose it’s not really all that bad. It’s better than a blazing two-by-four up-side the head. I suppose.
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The joy starts with the delicate balance of finding just the right motel. It can’t be expensive: all areas of youth ministry require the utmost diligence to live on the cheap. But it can’t be too cheap or parents won’t feel it is safe enough to allow their kids to go. You’ll need to settle somewhere between the Ritz Carlton and Charlie’s No-Tell Motel. But if you could find something run by Charlie’s less-trashy cousin….
It also needs to be within a reasonable distance to the event involved, which means you need to start early before all the available rooms in the area are gone. Which means you’ll actually have to book the place before you know how many teens will be involved. Which means you can’t use any of the Save-A-Ton-Of-Money-But-You-Can’t-Cancel websites, because your initial estimate of how many rooms you’ll need will be wrong.
It’s not all bad news, though. Take heart, knowing that you will be sleeping in a bed all by yourself, because there’s not a teen on the planet who isn’t creeped out by the thought of sharing a bed with you. There will always be at least one student who will volunteer to just sleep on the floor, claiming that he or she likes it. In reality, they just want to be closer to the door so they can sneak out when you go to sleep.
Wait a minute…did I inadvertently imply that you would actually be getting any kind of restful sleep during this adventure? Oops…sorry about that, Chief. The truth is, you had better be a light sleeper so your flock doesn’t fly the coop. They would like nothing better than to have a story to tell the majority of their friends (who stayed home) about roaming the hallways of the motel or going to a 24-hour oxygen bar while the old-as-dirt youth minister sawed logs.
But all of this is ignoring the overwhelming truth that it won’t be until 4:07 AM that the little darlings will be quiet enough to approximate the beginning of a semblance of a nap.
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A tried-and-true tradition of the youth group motel stay is having a pizza delivered to the room. This event is treated with the same excited anticipation as a visit from the President or the release of the new CD by Carpe Tunnel, Seize the Crawlway.
It doesn’t matter that each and every precious soul under your watchful tutelage has had pizza 87 times a month for the last seven years of their lives. They will still treat the ordering of pizza delivered to the motel room as the highlight of whatever faith-filled extravaganza you happen to be attending: “Dude! You shoulda been there, man! We ordered this huge pizza and it took like forever to get there and when it got there the guy had this huge zit on his chin! It was so totally gross! And then there wasn’t any sausage on the pizza, so we totally got him to give it to us for half price, dude! I mean, dude! You shoulda been there!”
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The elephant-in-the-room yet to be discussed is the focal point of any fine motor lodge’s décor: the television. Monitoring what gets displayed on the one-eyed monster is yet another reason why you won’t be getting much sleep. It’s bad enough if the little lust-bombs you’re sharing a room with sneak a peak at some R-rated movie on HBO, but that is nothing – I repeat, it is nothing – compared to the damage likely to be inflicted upon your reputation (if not your actual personal body) if the church treasurer examines the receipt from your motel stay and finds a charge for the viewing of Snow White and the Seven Full-Grown Men.