When asked, what do a cinder block, goggles, memory verses, giraffes, cactus, tsunami, nose plugs, toy army men, garbage cans, a sheet, a group of cool kids, and inner tubes have in common; most of us would say, “what?” All these items seem unrelated to us, however to a special group of young folks it means something, and that something is Summer Wars. Cactus, Giraffes and Tsunami are the names of the teams that competed in this year’s Summer Wars, (the rest of the list will be addressed later).
Summer Wars is a program of the Awakening Youth Ministries at what was once called Praise Assembly now referred to as Life Church in Garrettsville. The Awakening Youth Ministries is the youth group from the church that reaches out to area teens. Every summer they have a large gathering of teens, 6th grade thru 12 grade, participate in what they call Summer Wars.
Summer Wars is a friendly competition between groups of teens that builds character and friendships, while learning problem-solving skills, teamwork and biblical principles through games, songs and biblical teachings.
Summer Wars draws between 30 and 50 teens weekly from the Garrettsville- Windham area and other regions. They gather at Life Church on Monday evenings from 6:30 – 9:30 for an evening of games, fellowship, team building skills, worship and fun. The teens are divided up into teams at the beginning of summer and each team receives points each week for memory verses, winning games, bringing friends and just being awesome! Whichever team accumulates the most points at the end of summer will receive free tickets to Cedar Point for their group and go to Cedar Point as a group.
The group is run by Youth Pastor Noah Siegner, his wife Sammie, Gracie Ebie, Pearl Ebie and Sean McDowell. The leaders are high-energy, creative and just a lot of fun. Each week prior to the arrival of the teens, the leaders of the group meet for about 2 hours to pray for the kids, plan the next week’s events and tweak this week’s activities.
On a typical night, this is what one can expect: The teens arrive pumped up for another night of fun. They come wearing their team’s colors, waving their flag, and usually cheering their team on, similar to what one might see at a pep rally. Each team assembles in their group in the church and they collect offering, recite memory verses, and see who completed the weekly challenge. The team accumulates points for each task completed. After a brief video on the rules of the group, they play the video from last week’s activities, see team standings and then head outside for fun games. This is where all the items listed above come in.
The game master, Sean McDowell keeps the games under control as a referee would and the other leaders keep track of the points each team accumulates, while Pastor Noah video tapes the action.
The first game found each team having to man a sheet, run and gather the items on the list. Each team had to have four folks holding on to the sheet at all times and could only get one item each trip down the field. They were expected to find army men, nose plugs, cinderblocks etc (16 items in all) scattered in the lawn. The kids had to strategize and figure which items to get first, as once they have found an item it must remain in the sheet for the rest of the game. Any item dropped off the sheet had to be retrieved one at a time, hopefully before the other teams grabbed them up.
They next played a sumo wrestler game, where one member from each team donned themselves into an inner tube and had to bump the other team members out of the ring. Each team member had several chances to do this task. The kids laughed, had fun and were very competitive. After all, tickets to Cedar Point are on the line, as there is only one more week of Summer Wars.
The game of the evening was “ train wreck” It was where they have three intersecting lines drawn on the field and each team member runs from one end of the line to the other with a clean, never used garbage can over their heads in relay–like fashion. The other teammates waiting their turn try to direct the runners through the intersection; a few miscues or one not listening, resulted in a “train wreck”. A train wreck occurs when two or more runners run into each other. The kids laughed, got up quickly and resumed the game. The object is to be the first team to finish. Each team accumulates points for how well they played the games.
The evening wraps-up indoors with a time of worship — a Biblical lesson that teens can easily apply to their lives, and a time of reflection.
The kids learn a variety of skills while attending Summer Wars, they learn how to win as a team and lose graciously as a team, to encourage one another, to develop friendships, they strategize, build character, participate in physical activities and learn spiritual truths.
Last week Summer Wars came to an end for another year. Monday night the teams competed for the last time to try to accumulate enough points to go to Cedar Point for free. The Cedar Point trip was scheduled for Friday August 17th.
The Awakening Youth Ministries is a ministry of Life Church located at 10280 State Route 88 Garrettsville. The pastor is Greg Ebie. Call the church at 330 527- 2777 for more information about the church and its ministries.