Perhaps you take some time for prayer before you break groups up into cars with Diocesan Child Protection compliant adult drivers with the liability & release forms from the parents and send them off to Kenny Wood, Cedar Point, or other amusement parks....of maybe you take advantage of an hour or three on a bus with ice-breakers, prayer and an instructional video to include some catechesis in the day of fun.... but do you intertwine catechesis or prayer into the amusement park?
It seems natural when someone is usually yelling out, "Oh God" as a roller coaster nears to the top of its largest hill or once a spinny ride has been going for over a minute. How can we encourage teens to see God in their experiences (besides praying for a long long to move quickly or for the rain to hold off a while longer!)? Here are just a few suggestions -- and I welcome others to be added:
1. Prior to your event day, be sure to get a list of the amusement park attractions. You may be able to play on the names of some rides so that they can think about that when they ride, while they wait, or even as they walk by it.
+ Cedar Point's Blue Streak coaster -- are your teens familiar with the old term about someone 'cussing/cursing up a blue streak' in that a lot of foul language is used? What does the Bible say about cursing? What about the catechism? When they see the Blue Streak, can they pray for God to help them keep clean mouths?
A few Bible verses to get you started:
No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 5:1 - 4
So be imitators of God,* as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving.
Colossians 3:8- 10
But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain
Colossians 4:5 - 6
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you should respond to each one.
You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.
+ Cedar Downs Racing Derby --
Talk about St. Paul's analogy of "Running the Race" in our faith journey (Philipians 3: 12 - 16)
+ There is a LOT that can be done regarding the Waters of Baptism to be reflected upon on any water ride at Kennywood ( Log Jammer, Pittsburg Plunge and Raging Rapids), Cedar Point (Shoot the Rapids, Snake River Falls, Thunder Canyon), anything at Wildwater Kingdom..... or at your parish festival dunking booth ;-)
2. Challenge your group members to seek out the good -- look for people helping others, i.e. picking up something some else dropped.....helping a parent with a small child....holding a door or gate open for the next person.... can they find at least ten different examples before lunch?
During lunch, have them share the examples they witnessed.
After lunch, challenge them, can they then do ten nice things for strangers around the park?
Perhaps reading from Matthew 5; 13 - 16 can help:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
OK, your turn to share some ideas.....
Best wishes for a safe, fun, and spiritually enriching summer!
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.