This is a line that I anticipate at any given moment when having any outdoor activity! Let’s be real, kids are kids but teenagers and middle school students are just plum crazy. As a teen on a retreat, I remember watching my friend try to walk on a rolling log down the side of a mountain at Camp Tepeyac. Well as you could imagine, this didn’t end well and he has an amazing scar known as his “badge of stupidity.” Teenagers love to push the limits mentally and more importantly physically. Guys want to impress girls and girls love to encourage the young men! As you may well know, most retreats, summer camps and outdoor activities typically have someone in need of minor medical attention. Here are three easy ways to be prepared for any and all medical situations that might arise from teens seeking their own “badge.”
“Somebody call a Doctor”
1. Find a person on your Core Team to be in charge of all medical needs. God blesses our communities with an abundance of professionals; finding a safe environment trained medical professional is not as hard as you think! All parishes have Doctors, EMTs and Nurses registered; all you need to do is simply ask. No matter the size of the group there is always one person with one specific role, FIRST AID! Staying organized as a youth minister will help make everything easy for the staff, the Core and you. Have a roster of all the teens’ names in alphabetical order, medications being taken, allergies and emergency contact. This individual will be in charge of the teens that need to take daily medications and any medical attention needed. Some teens may be allergic to many things and mixing medications can create a severe medical disaster, know your teen’s allergies!
“Who has the band-aids?”
2. Have a well stocked first aid kit! Preferably a small duffel bag that is easy to carry around. A big bulky box is more likely to get left behind because nobody wants to carry it. If you are on a tight budget, it might be a good idea to contact a local doctor’s office and or seek help from parishioners who may be willing to donate medical supplies. If your church is connected with a school, most nurses’ offices at the school have a First Aid Kit that can be checked out. Bring this everywhere because you never know what can happen. Have a designated first aid station for medical attention and daily medication. It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it at all.
“Where did they go?”
3. Being available and on guard as a Core Team will help eliminate the group of teens with creative minds from pushing limits and doing something unsafe. The Core Team I had as a teen did a great job of involving themselves in free time activities. An aware and available Core Team not only gives you extra sets of eyes and ears, but also allows you to really establish relational ministry during free time activities. It’s a win, win situation for the Core Team. Be sure the teens know the expectation, rules and boundaries of the property at all times.
My prayers go out to all the youth ministers who have that group of teens such as my friends. You will always ask yourself “did they really do that?” but when the day is finished those creative minds will be a great source of joy. While there is no way to anticipate every situation and scenario, some basic preparation can help you and the Core Team enjoy the summer events. Don’t stress about what could happen on these trips, just be open to whatever the Lord lays out for you. Always remember to praise God and embrace grace! Have a safe and fun summer.