Story and photos by VANESSA MEUIR
Music blasts through stage speakers in the gym at Christian Chapel Church every Wednesday night this summer. The church’s youth program has begun “C2 Summer Games,” which invites youth in grades six through 12 from all over the community to join in on activities happening every week.
On the first Wednesday, the students split up into teams that they will participate in for the duration of the summer. Each team created a name, picked a team color, designed a flag, and made up a chant. The teams compete with one another each week in games and outdoor activities, during which they earn cumulative points. The team that earns the most points will be awarded a grand prize when the program ends.
“They can get points for just about anything,” said Janaire Seye, an adult leader. “Anything that they compete in they get points for. If they wear their team colors or if they bring a guest, they earn points.”
The participants can also earn points by donating money to a worthy cause. Students are encouraged to bring any extra money to benefit Speed the Light, a ministry that supports missionaries.
“A lot of the money goes to equipment for presentations so that they can present the gospel in whatever form that they want,” Seye said.
Stevie Hudson, who will be a sixth-grader in the fall, has been attending Christian Chapel for many years and loves having the chance to play games with his friends during the summer months.
“I like this because lots of times, since we don’t have school anymore, there’s no recess and all, so we get to do this every Wednesday night,” he said.
Jeremy Risner, Christian Chapel’s youth pastor, came up with ideas for games each week with the help of adult leaders and a few of the students themselves. Each team is led by both an adult and student leader, who work together to boost team spirit.
“It helps that a lot of the kids helped plan the summer games, so it wasn’t just a bunch of old geezers telling the students what to play,” Seye said.
Lainie Battaglia, a student leader who will be a junior in the fall, enjoys spending her Wednesday evenings at the church, cheering her team on and participating in the games. She explained that her duties as a student leader included keeping spirits up and making the team members feel like they won every game, even if they didn’t.
“I love being able to connect with the kids and make them feel welcome on a level that, in a way, only a leader can do,” Battaglia said. “It gives me a chance to connect with the students and to be able to come along side them and be more of a friend.”
On the second week of the summer games, the teams participated in “noodle lacrosse,” in which teams were given foam noodles that they used to toss and catch a bouncy ball. The game proved to be an exciting activity as the students often ended up smacking each other with their noodles instead of using them to catch the ball. By the end of the game, everyone was laughing and splattered with mud. The whole group headed to Sonic afterward to cool down.
“I can’t wait to see what’s coming up next this summer,” Seye said. “I know it’s going to get wackier each week.”
Students from anywhere in the community are encouraged to join in on the summer games any Wednesday night that they choose. The games start at 6:45 p.m. and usually continue until 8:15 p.m.
“It’s a place were every student matters; that’s kind of our motto or vision,” Battaglia said. “Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done, you matter here, and we love just coming together and having a great time.”