(props to my brother Jon for the art)
Saturday morning, around 11 am, I boomed out Nicki Minaj's Superbass to a group of 54 high school kids here at Campamento del Caribe. I then showed them a clip of Sophia Grace Brownlee singing the same song perfectly, belting that catchy chorus just like Ms. Minaj. It was the cutest thing ya ever did see.
But those lyrics... they're kinda nasty. In the very least, they paint an odd picture of what an ideal man should be. (Nicki's take: "He pop bottles... he's always in the air but he never flies coach, he might sell coke") And that's where we took our ensuing discussion. It's just a little weird having a discussion about naughty English lyrics with a group of Spanish speaking kids. Many of them were bobbing their heads and shot their hands in the air when I asked if they knew the words.
Discussing the dangers of pop music officially ushers me into one of the stages of adulthood between "permissibly cool grown-up" and "please stop, Dad, you're embarrassing me." I think the one I'm at the post-plateau coolness plummet. My trajectory is negative, no doubt.
But my own coolness aside, it was all part of our Contracultura retreat.
The point we were trying to get across was: Be different. Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the powers of the world, and we wanted to find some cool ways to get that point across to the campers. Part of that was our discussion that morning, dubbed "THE VOICE OF TRUTH." We compared various takes the entertainment industry and media have on subjects like men, women, God, Good and Evil, Success (we never got to sex and relationships, dadgummit) with the Bible. The format worked well - Clip, introduce topic, discuss in small groups, hear from a few groups, look at what the Bible says.
That discussion was one of the hardest things for me to plan - it only came together a few days before the retreat. Also tough: coming up with a name. Julio gets credit for that. He clearly has not plateaued in coolness, as I have. We kicked around a bunch of ideas, almost settling on a few others, until he pitched Contracultura. It was like, "Bingo." And it stuck.
Our high school camps have been really, really encouraging to me. Before the summer, Jon gave me a capacity number, and I looked at the previous summer and said there was no way we'd hit it. And somehow we did. We had a full camp, and the kids had a blast. And the energy at the end of the week was amazing.
So they seemed to carry it over into the retreat this weekend. Good numbers again, up from our last retreat in February. On Saturday night, Julio spoke and gave an invitation, and at least four kids went to talk to their counselors to accept Christ. Praise God for that.
I got to speak Sunday morning. I'm not nervous about that anymore, not here anyway. It helps when you know what you're going to say. And when you speak through a translator, you get a minute to formulate your next thought. Which really disrupts your flow, if you have flow. I am not a person who has flow. I don't think, anyway. But I was glad to get the chance to speak, if only for 20 minutes. It went well - I told an embarrassing story, shared a funny clip, and used a good illustration I learned from Francis Chan.
I really don't like to dwell on numbers, but it's a special thing when camp is full. Once again, parents were dragging their kids away from CdC. God is doing big things here.
I got to leaf through some of our evaluations from the retreat today, and the most common suggestion for improvement: Let us stay longer. The thing they liked the most: The teaching times.
That's why we do these retreats. It's great that they have fun and want to come back, but for them to leave with deeper understanding, strengthened in their walk... That's huge. Pray for those 54 kids, that they really would keep at it, and truly be Contracultura.