It’s As Scary As It Looks – At First


At first, this is very frightening. But after years of practicing the shorter unicycle, I found that once I took that first “leap of faith” onto the tall unicycle and rode it for a bit, it was just like riding the shorter one, just higher in the air. This was taken at Highland Lakes Camp in Spicewood, Texas at a camp for about 850 kids. My next goal is to juggle while idling in place on the tall unicycle.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

I have stumbled upon an immensely wonderful game to play with elementary age children. It works especially well with very large groups (even hundreds of kids). I play it with kids at the camps I visit in the summertime and most every kid seems to love playing it.

It’s called, “If You’re Happy and You Know It….”. We’ve all heard of it. But there is a twist I put on it that has endless possibilities. I’m sure plenty of people have done this twist before. Basically, you sing the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.” The kids will of course clap. This starts the game. Then you sing the line again and change the words to anything you like, such as “If you’re from Mississippi clap your hands” or “If you’ve ever kissed a frog clap your hands” or “If you can name all four of the Beatles clap your hands”, and so on and so forth. The kids will clap their hands after your line if their answer is positive to your questions. If you do a question that requires proof, such as the one about naming the Beatles, point to a kid that clapped their hands and ask them to name the Beatles.

The kids never tire of this game. You could go on and on and on. They love answering all the different questions that come up in the game and clapping their hands to it. I make a list of 30 or 40 lines to the song each time I play the game with the kids.

I’ve got a dozen or so lists that I’ve made over the past 3 summers in playing this game at camps. So I’ve probably got about 400 or 500 different lines to the game written down. Again, the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few more examples:

If you have red hair….
If you can juggle 3 balls…
If you were born in another country….
If you can speak another language…
If you are a twin….
If you still sleep with a blankie….
If you do your own laundry….
If you are homeschooled…

I think you get the point. Come up with your own list and have fun getting to know those kids in ways you never knew you could!

I Love Camp Cedars

I am here in Hordville, Nebraska at Covenant Cedars Christian Camp. It is part of the Evangelical Covenant denomination, which stands for solid Christian doctrine and the authority of God’s Word. Something I really like about this denomination is its diversity on the more peripheral issues that tend to split denominations out there.

Anyway, I want to share one neat thing we did last night with the kids at camp that I think worked really well. The theme this week is “I AM.” So we are looking at various “I am” statements in the Bible where Jesus identifies Himself (light of the world, bread of life, alpha and omega, etc.). Last night, the focus statement was “I am the Light of the world.”). So we gave the kids a night walk with stations along the way. They walked with their cabins and learned a Bible verse about God being the Light at each station. I was the final station at the beach of the lake. Across the lake, we had built a campfire on a hill. So I stood the kids along the edge of the water and had them look at the blazing campfire shining brightly on the hill in the night sky. I told them about Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 where He said, “A city on a hill cannot be hidden…therefore, let your light shine before men so that they may praise your Father in heaven.” It was a fantastic visual illustration of the verse.

The kids were exhausted (it was about 11pm). So after my station, I told them to just go to bed (except for a few that won the games that day and got to have night pool time). Don’t ask me where they get all this energy for camp, but I guess the midday naps help out. Camp is fun. Camp is exhausting. And may God bless the ministry here at Camp Cedars.

I Love Camp Dixie

Camp Dixie is a Christian camp in Fayetteville, NC and I had the chance to speak at their “Beginner’s Camp” this past week (1st-4th graders). I had a blast at this camp. They had a theme called “Secrets of the Realm” and decked out the camp in Medieval decor. So I ran with that theme and played the character of a storytelling jester from Saxony who was sharing the secrets of the Bible with the kids at the risk of beheading by the evil King Jathan. So I enlisted the help of some Thespian-inclined camp counselors. King Jathan was, of course, defeated by the end of the week by the good King Gregory (who served the Lord), who ran in at the last moment to save my head from being chopped off by Jathan when Jathan caught me red-handed with the Book from the High King of Heaven in my hand. Jathan and Gregory ensued in a struggle of swords, then “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” and finally, arm-wrestling. Gregory won the day, and the kids loved it. There were other parts of the plot, including fair maidens (who were kidnapped) and even a pie-in-the-face scene, but I won’t get into all that.

I normally do not have such elaborate themes with which to work (or rather, I have not taken full advantage of themes given to me in the past). I learned a great deal this past week – namely that kids love story. Yes, I juggle a lot. But even juggling can get boring if it is not couched in a story. When the juggling I do is part of a larger story, then I really enjoy the journey – and the kids give me a ton of feedback showing me that they are “with it.” Kids would ask me throughout the week if Gregory was going to make it – or if Jathan was going to show up that night. There was a level of anticipation to see how the plot would unfold – and anticipation is really what keeps the attention of human beings, especially kids. My prayer is that the ultimate story of Jesus, his death, and resurrection would envelop the kids while we do all of our silly skits, dramas, VBS’s, camps, etc. I would love to learn more about the great art of storytelling. Let me know if you have some good references on storytelling as an art form. Have a great day. – Jesse