It’s every youth leader’s worst nightmare:
Leader: “Hey kids, how did your scavenger hunt around the neighborhood go?”
Kids: “Wowie, it was great! We almost got attacked by an insane little Asian boy wielding a 10-inch butcher knife, yelling and compulsively pulling his pants up over his bellybutton!”
Yes. As I often say, I’m not creative enough to make this stuff up. It actually happens.
Let me rewind a minute for you. Last Friday, after a grueling week of Vacation Bible School in which I made a fool of myself in front of hundreds of kids and parents (and furthered the personal torture by somehow managing to get interviewed on camera by our video team while wearing my bee-bopper costume and bouncing Styrofoam antenna, which naturally ended up being selected from the hundreds of other interviews the teams did…which meant that my sweaty mug was plastered all over the screens at our 3 sites and thousands of people on Sunday), I had a youth event.
Our youth event was our annual “Bigger and Better Scavenger Hunt”. The premise is simple: kids split into teams. Each team gets a small object–like a straw or little coffee creamer–and races around the neighborhoods near the church, knocking on doors and asking for anything “bigger or better” than what they have. All the donations either go to the church or to charity, so people are more than willing to give us their junk.
We take whatever we can carry and hike it back to our church, where we gloat over our spoils of war like brave and tired little soldiers.
This is the third time we’ve done this event. Two years ago, the winning item was a ping-pong table. (Yes, that’s right: we carried a full-sized ping-pong table all the way back to the church. Uphill. Past a police officer, who didn’t even blink upon seeing a gaggle of kids pushing a ping-pong table down a busy street at dusk.)
Last year, the winning item was a large sandbox, full of sand and sand toys.
This year, however, topped the charts with weirdness.
To begin with, the group of boys I was with got a fence.
Yes, a fence. They pulled it out of the ground themselves.
By the time we finished our 2-hour scavenger hunt, our group had managed to procure two large sections of fence, an exercise ball, a large fake Christmas tree, several electronic toys, a plastic fire truck, 3 rusty nails, a yoga mat, a purse, a candle, a brand-new tennis racket, a box of brownie mix, envelopes, and a car vacuum. We almost got a dog, but had to turn it down at the last second.
Despite my personal feeling that nothing could ever top the sight of 6 boys slowly dragging all this rubbish through the neighborhood on a 95-degree night, I was wrong.
Upon arriving back and meeting up with the other teams, I discovered that they had dragged suitcases, a bathroom stall door, and boxes of European chocolates with them back to our headquarters.
But, that wasn’t all they dragged back. They dragged back a wild, almost-unbelievable story about a little Asian boy with a knife.
Of course, this happened to be the group of kids who took off with my husband, Tyler. The weird things seem to stick to him like sprinkles on honey (sorry, latent VBS joke…I’m still trying to get it out of my system.)
Apparently, they had knocked on the door of a large suburban house, only to have the door creaked open by a small but fiesty Asian boy around 8 years old. He shouted at them in a language they couldn’t understand, and then screamed something about how his parents weren’t home and they had to leave him alone. As the group turned to leave, the boy whipped the door open again to reveal the said shiny knife and the pants pulled up over his bellybutton, a la Steve Urkel.
At this point, the entire group backed away slowly. The boy flashed the knife around, saying, “Come in, one at time! One at time, inside!” while the group shouted their apologies and made a hasty exit to the street.
No harm, no foul–but boy, was I cringing as I listened to the kids tell their parents how they “almost got attacked” at the youth event. It was one of those rumors I wasn’t too excited to have posted on Facebook that night.
When the kids clamored around me, shouting their versions of the story, my knee-jerk reaction was to pretend I hadn’t heard this. It’s the same sort of feeling I got after finding out that one of the high schoolers had shimmied up the very slick roof of our student center to chase after a loose frisbee–like if I just pretend that I didn’t hear it, I can continue to revel in my ignorance.
And I wonder how I earned the endearing nickname “The Fun Stopper” from my dear husband?
Thankfully, in the end, no one was stabbed by that pesky 8-year-old with the knife.
But, if they had been attacked, they could’ve used the bathroom stall door to defend themselves.
I guess next year I’ll just have to send the kids out with army tanks….