I don’t know how many times I can sit down to almost write a blog post about Family Night at RELC. I’ve written 3/4 of a post half a dozen times, but it never quite feels right, so I inevitably scrap it and start over. Even these first three sentences have been edited four times. I don’t usually have trouble finding words, which makes this struggle even more perplexing. I want to write about the most exciting, fulfilling, overwhelming experience of my summer, but I can’t find the words to do so eloquently.
Since this is my first summer with SON Ministries, I’ve never experienced a Family Night before. I was told that typically there are 20-30 guests and that the evening focuses on a Potluck. We tried something a little bit different with RELC this year.
The staff knew that Family Night had never been very well attended and they, as well as I, wanted to change that. Our thought was that if the kids were excited about the evening then the parents would be willing to show up.
We started weeks in advance, letting the kids choose what they were interested in doing for a vague Family Night sometime in the future. We ended up with four main groups: Sports, Dance, Art and Baking. Then things progressed.
The sports group created team names, jerseys, new soccer goals from scratch and a new dodgeball game.
The dance group choreographed two original dances to two different songs, each lasting about five minutes (one that included audience participation).
The baking group made chef hats, signs, banners, chocolate covered pretzels, cake balls, cookies, cupcakes, puppy chow and chocolate covered marshmallows (baked goods were frozen during the weeks prior and thawed the evening of the event).
The art group created a box house, a box city, paper mache disco balls, and other miscellaneous crafts.
Like I said, we wanted the kids to want to be there. They worked for weeks to get everything ready and seemed excited, but we also really wanted to make it a special night for them, too. So we added a raffle.
The staff created three themed raffle prizes to give away on Family Night. The kids earned tickets during camp for good behavior and for eating the vegetable of the day (usually carrots). They also would receive tickets at the door if they showed up to Family Night. The prizes were as follows:
- Sports and Music: Soccer Ball, Basketball, 2x$10 iTunes gift cards, sports water bottle, OSU drawstring bag
- Art: Various craft supplies including colored pencils, markers, crayons, modeling clay, paints, carrying case, $20 Michael’s gift card, coloring books and painting books.
- Baking: Various baking supplies including mixing bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons and cake mixes
So the stage was set. We sent home RSVP forms with the kids the week prior to the big event and were already surprised at the numbers we were getting back. Surely not every person that claimed to be attending would actually show, right?
I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong. It was a great turn out. Just me, the staff, and over 150 guests.
This is where I start to struggle with words. I was so overwhelmed by how many people were in attendance, how happy the kids were to be there, how well behaved they were and how much fun everybody was having that I spent the remainder of the evening walking around with a stunned smile on my face (a stubborn smile that wouldn’t come off for days afterward). I watched as the baking group ran a bake sale, the dancers blew everybody away with their choreography, sports group battled for soccer supremacy and showed off their new dodgeball game and the art group toured box city.
I realize now that there aren’t any words I can put down that would accurately portray how amazing this night was, so let me give you the cliff notes.
The kids dreamed it, the kids did it, the community watched, and I was amazed.