So this past weekend we welcomed a group from St. Matha's youth group in Cuyahoga Falls, OH to the Farm. It was unorthodox in terms of scheduling because it was only for the weekend but it didn't mean it was any less busy. I knew it was going to be a fun weekend when I noticed one of the kids wearing a pair of Hoban shorts. When I asked him if he went to the same Archbishop Hoban we were familiar with, it turned out there were a handful of them on the trip. It was good to see Hoban kids back on the Farm. It was also great to welcome some new places to the Farm as well.
Planning for the group was actually a pain. Since they were here only for the weekend, we couldn't bring them to any of our old standby sites like construction or Comprehend. So we were scrambling a bit to try and find things for the group to do. This was coumpounded by the fact that Jamie joined her family this weekend in Maine for the second largest Lobstering tournament on the East Coast. So while she was captaining her trawler (as I'm told Lobster boats are properly called), Colleen and I were left with the group. It was also frustrating because we wanted the kids to get a well rounded expereience at the Farm, which was difficult to do since they only had one day. The Farm has some wonderful qualities about it but it often takes a little time for them to really sink in. Like anything new, the first day is more about the kids adjusting to the simplicity, God's Time, not having cell phones etc. Once they get past that, they can appreciate what the charisms of this place do for them. Colleen put it best when she said that it really had to be a conscious effort on our part to drive home these points instread of letting the Farm work its magic.
Despite all these obstacles set in our way, the kids really had a fantastic weekend of sevice. I spent Saturday at the Clothing Pantry. It was a mess after the pantry handout week so we had a lot of work cut out for us. But the kids were really willing to do the work and did it with great enthusiasm. I think the entire time we were there was spent singing. It started with Party in the USA (let's be honest, there isn't a better place to start), moved from there to Disney songs and then gradually gave way to a Grease medley. The kids kept making comments indicating they thought I would get annoyed with all their goofyness. But it was such a great reminder of what I and my fellow Farm Managers are trying to do here.
Every community of Farm managers runs things differently. It depends on philosophies and personalities of the Farm Managers. There's really no right or wrong way to do things here. For Colleen, Jamie, and I there's a definite philosophy of service with a smile. We joke that we make a scene everywhere we go here in Lewis County. Everyone seems to be secretly laughing at us as we bumble around. We regularly crack up at somewhat inappropriate times (say during Fr. Larry's sermons) and generally have a great time. We just want to show the kids that service doesn't have to be chorelike and can be done while having fun. Service and fun are certainly not mutually exclusive when it comes to us. It's why we're always joking around, it's why the background to the computer here is usually something ridiculous like Werewolf Bar Mitzvah or lolcats, and it's why we have a quote wall. We embrace the fact that we're young and inexperienced but I think we have our hearts in the right place, which makes all the difference. Seeing Maggie, Taylor and Kiki sing the entire time at the pantry really reminded me of what I'm doing here in Lewis County.
As chance would have it, George came over to the clothing pantry and mentioned that he needed some help in the food pantry. So off we went to the food side. We stacked boxes in anticipation for the next time we would pack them and then had a blast making ziploc bags of sausage patties. I was really gald we got to do that because it showed the kids the food pantry when they would not have gone there otherwise.
That night, seeing as it was Halloween (alas, not Fortiesween) Colleen and I decided to take the kids to a local haunted hotel right in downtown Vanceburg. We had seen the signs for it and Colleen saw the jail guys setting it up earlier in the week but we didn't know anything else. I was hoping it wouldn't be hokey and cheesy. I know that it must have been difficult to give up their Halloween to do service, so I wanted the kids to have a good time. Luckily the hotel proved to be a big hit. It was a really elaborate operation with multiple rooms and a lot of different things. They had a kitchen of horrors, a meeting with the Devil and the obligatory chainsaw man that jumped out at you at the end. And it was legitimately scary. I was laughing the whole time at the kids who were screaming their heads off. We went in two groups, with me in the front and Colleen in the second. When Colleen came out with the second group she ran over to me and showed me her hands, which were covered in nervous sweat. So score one for Vanceburg.
So it was a good weekend overall with a lot of hilarity. Now we have an off week so I'm going to try and rest up and store some energy for the groups to come...