Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Favorite Summer Camp Idea: Random Bus Passenger

Two summers ago we found out that we were getting a new leader in our area. He was moving to our city just a few weeks before camp. Instead of letting him jump in right away, we came up with a fun way to introduce him to the kids.

Another leader in our area had a grandfather who owned a
McDonald's right off the highway about 1.5 hours north of us (on our way to summer camp.) We had Nick drive up a little early to that Mickey D's to meet Grandpa, get a uniform, and get to "work." Not long after he started his "new job," our camp bus made our first bathroom stop, and it happened to just be at the same Golden Arches.

Kids poured off the bus and into the restaurant where Nick was sweeping the floor. He began conversing with some kids asking what they were doing, pretending to have just graduated from high school 2 weeks before himself. I proceeded to walk in introduce myself to him and "jokingly" invite him to come along with us. Kids listened in as Nick began to get more "interested." After a short conversation with me (in front of the kids) he called his "mom" and explained to her that this Young Life group had stopped at his
McDonald's and they had a camper dropout at the last minute and there was a spot on the bus headed to California that was paid for, completely free to him. He asked her if he could go, then handed me the phone.

At this point, our kids began freaking out. "Is this really happening? Will this random dude really come with us to camp?" I handed him back the phone and told him that he could sign the forms since he had just turned 18 and that his mom was good with him going if he wanted to. He then proceeded to say that he really couldn't cause he didn't have any suitcase packed and he had to work. I ask the kids listening (which was close to the whole group by this point) if Nick could borrow clothes from them for the week and they replied "of course!" They were experiencing a combination of disbelief and excitement. (We promised them a memorable adventure!)

Within 10 minutes I had talked to Nick's "boss" and he was on the bus. Some of the girls were already hitting on him. (That part got a little awkward for Nick.) An hour later down the road, with kids still confused about this unreal scenario, I got a call from a concerned mom who had been
texting with her daughter who was on the bus. She was concerned that we had let a kid on the trip who no one knew. Before things got more out of hand, we decided to end the prank and Nick went to "use" the bathroom, where we had stashed an afro and costume. We then announced from the front of the bus that we would like to introduce our newest YL leader, played some hip hop, and Nick strolled down the aisle giving high fives to confused teenagers. Slowly they realized they had been Punk'd.

It was amazing. Kids still talk about it. And Nick forever had awkward relationships with those high school girls who flirted with him for the first hour.

Maybe you can steal a variation of this idea to spice up your bus ride to summer camp? Creativity is just forgetting where you stole it from.

1 comment:

  1. We did something very similar with a new leader in our area last year (who we all knew prior). We played up a "musical guest" passing through town who'd be coming to play at some Clubs, specially for our YL! We went all out w/ this character-- fake name, singer/songwriter fb page, orchestrated "fan postings," & stories of a recent performance where he "opened for Jack Johnson in concert."
    We then proceeded to stage each 'performance' during Club as increasingly awkward/hilarious (he can't find his guitar, tells 10-min. lead-in story & runs out of time, etc.) until things were so strange/uncomfortable that we had to come clean. We introduced him as our newest leader, and SO MANY kids were genuinely confused about who he was! "Wait, so you don't really play guitar?" "Did you really meet Jack Johnson?" etc.
    We'd never guess the prank would go over so well! Weeks passed before all were clear that his name was not "Gram," and we still sometimes get questions about what happened to the guest performer from last year...I think his fb page even continues to attract fans and "likes," haha.
    Great way to break the ice with kids, and even better way to make him the "hero" of the semester by pulling the funniest, most (surprisingly) believable prank! So memorable...