Does the sight of a group of teenagers scare you?
If not, you are in the minority.
This weekend, The Crossing Senior High took its annual Winter Weekend trip to St. Louis. It was a blast! Our group consisted of 46 high energy teenagers plus 9 leaders attempting to maintain control. It was great group.
I observed something new on this particular trip. Everywhere we went, we got looks. Most of them were fearful, angry, concerned, or anxious looks. It was amazing to watch the demeanor of adults change the second they saw our mass of kids. I feel like I could read their minds. “They’re going to steal something. They are going to damage something. They are going to break the rules. Too Loud. Watch everything they do. They are up to no good.”
Because of our large numbers, we were the center of attention no matter where we went. And not in a good way. Most adults just assumed we were a nuisance.
At our first stop, the ice skating rink, we immediately got reprimanded for gathering in the middle of the rink. There were multiple announcements over the speakers reminding “everyone” of the rules. “No horseplay, no loitering, no fun. Just go away. Your group scares me.” (At least that’s what they were thinking.) The staff didn’t seem too impressed when one of our guys dove between the legs of 3 other guys standing straddled. We thought it was cool at least.
We moved on to our dinner spot. Because our first two options were closed, we ended up at Whole Foods Market. Again- the looks, the questions, the darting eyes between employees were all around us. To our credit, our kids were behaving great! It was inevitable though. I was eating my dinner and an employee tracks me down. “Are you the one in charge? Can you get your group to move, they are blocking our isles…” See ya Whole Foods Market.
Final destination of the evening: Drury Inn.
We began our meeting with a game. It was energetic and loud. (It involved pantyhose with a nerf ball at the end, pulled over the head, swung around trying to snag the opponent- hilarious) I’m standing close to the door and notice a large black man enter our room. He looked like he worked for the hotel.
Me: Hi. Can I help you?
Man: What are you doing here?
Me: Umm, well we are having a meeting. (Meanwhile, behind me there are two kids battling with pantyhose pulled over their heads. I could see why he was confused).
Man: Why are you here?
Me: Well, we have this room rented.
Man: I mean, why St. Louis?
Me: (Completely confused by his line of questioning) Umm. we are from a church in Columbia on a retreat.
Man: Oh. I saw your Rock Bridge shirt. I go to Mizzou. (Turns around and walks away) M-I-Z
I could go on and on with stories. Like the time we found out our bus-driver had a pretty bad temper that is brought out by blowhorns. Or the store owners on The Loop who detested groups of teenagers walking through their stores. Or the 9 dirty looks we got for walking through Dillards. As the weekend drew to an end, we made some conclusions. You simply can’t go anywhere with a huge group of teenagers and expect to not get in trouble. It may be the fault of our energetic, hormonal teenagers. But I personally think it is the uptight adults overreacting out of fear.
Either way, I do know that as long as I continue to do this job the question, “Excuse me, are you the one in charge?” is never going to cease.