Today begins one of my most favorite things of the summer - Summer Stretch - six Thursdays out of the summer roughly 150 middle schoolers from seven different churches and four denominations gather together to serve our area. In the morning we all head out all over town and we do service projects of every shape, size, and in nearly every location. We walk alongside our nursing home friends, our fire stations, our animal shelter, other congregations and ministries, our food shelf, the middle school, and so much more. These kids make a deep impact on our community and people eventually start looking for the mob of kids all dressed in the same shirt to be around. (Not to mention it gives me an amazing excuse to wear a t-shirt to work one day a week)
After our morning service project we find a park or some green space or link up with another church somewhere and we eat our bag lunches and do a bible study. EVERY church is doing the same bible study (obviously with our own swing on it) and this summer we are focusing on Jesus and our call to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.
The afternoon is spent as a ridiculously large group doing all sorts of fun fellowship. We live in a bit of a touristy area, however, most of our kids don't have the opportunity to do many of the touristy things. Soooo we make deals with the local places and they cut us great deals and let our kids come and play for a few hours in the afternoon. We spend our afternoons at a local water park, the big mini golf course, playing at the beach, playing games in a park, paddling down the mighty Mississippi, biking up the amazing bike trail, and eating copious amounts of ice cream. The local paper is even coming during our afternoon fun today to take pictures of our kids and put them on the front page of the newspaper. THIS is the kind of stuff I love to see in the newspaper!
The idea for Summer Stretch came out of a Summer Stretch ministry that is happening the in Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
My youth look forward to Thursday every week and are VERY annoyed with me when they graduate out of the ministry and no longer can participate. I am always tempted to begin a Summer Stretch type ministry with the high school youth except they all have 12,001 things going on between work, summer sports, and vacation.
Unrelated side note: my wedding to-do list is getting shorter and shorter by the minute and while I am off summer stretching my mom and dear friend are continuing to cross stuff off my list! GLORIOUS!