10 Fun Things to Do with Your Summer Break

One of my favorite things about high school was the last week of school. Sure there were finals, but I knew the school year was about to end, and it was almost time for summer break. Ah… summer break. Oh how I would look forward to it. Oh how I would long for it. Oh how I would plan out all the exciting things I was going to do, only to get trapped in a cycle of boredom within a week. You probably know the drill and have been there before. There's nothing to do. It's too hot, and theme parks are too expensive. So, what can you do? Well, if you're not already going to Life Teen Summer Camp, here are 10 fun things you can do with your summer vacation.

I love a good prank (as long as I'm the one pulling it), and, over the course of my 9-year career as youth minister I pulled a few on the teens. My favorite of all-time took place when our retreat kicked off on a Friday night that also happened to be April Fool's Day:

Heaven is Worth it

Life is hard. We will feel pain, but the pain we face as we struggle along in our journey will one day make sense as we reach our 'finish line' and experience perfect joy for all eternity in heaven. It is here where we will be welcomed for who we are, congratulated on the 'race' we ran, and showered with an eternal feast the likes of which we could never have imagined. You see, no matter what we may face in this life, it's worth it because of what lies ahead in the next.

Community Matters

Throughout my life, I've always enjoyed doing things on my own. I couldn't stand group projects. I never enjoyed relay races, and I would rather play Madden '04 on my Playstation against the computer than against another person. So, when I set out to run a marathon, I thought this was going to be another thing I was doing on my own. Once again . . . I was wrong (a recurring theme in my life).

Don’t Give Up Because of Pain and Failure

7th grade rolled around, and it was time to tryout for the school team. I made it past the cut and the second cut. There were 18 of us left to fill 16 spots, and well . . . I was one of the last two cut. It was heartbreaking, but I dusted off my wounds and worked harder. I tried out for the 8th grade team the following year, and guess what? I got cut again . . . one of the last ones. The hard work continued, and I gave it a couple more shots early in my high school career, and, each time . . . cut . . . at the end.

The pain was too much, and I couldn't bear the thought of another year of hard work only to be rejected again. So, when it came time to try out for the Varsity Team my senior year, I gave up. I quit.

How to Persevere in Your Faith

I remember one of my first retreats in high school. I came home Sunday night on fire and ready to be a new person. It was time to change. I was going to go to Confession every week, get to mass everyday, pray the rosary every night, and read my Bible every morning. I was going to be holy. No more making fun of people, bad language, or laziness. I knew I could do it. I was inspired.

And that lasted until Tuesday. Yep. Tuesday. I had so much to learn.

You’ve Got to Have a Plan to Reach Your Goals

If you've ever been on a sports team or in a band, you’ve no doubt had to practice countless hours in order to get as good as possible for your upcoming game or concert. Without this practice, your team would be more likely to lose, or your concert would sound more like a bunch of 2 year olds banging on pots and pans in the kitchen instead of a beautiful symphony (unless they are really talented 2 year olds).

One of my favorite things about being a man is that we know everything. Or . . . no . . . wait a minute. We think we know everything. There, that sounds more like it.

But seriously, in high school I thought I had it all figured out.

Not Cool, Nicki Minaj

Dear Nicki Minaj,

I want to begin by letting you know that I don't know much about you. I don't listen to your music. I don't know your background, and I even had to look up how to spell your name. I think you performed at the Super Bowl this year, but last night, watching the Grammy's, was probably my first real introduction to you. And if it's important to make a good first impression, with me, you failed.

To say that I was offended by your performance is an understatement, and I really don't want to go back and re-live it again, so I'm not going to get into any specifics. What I do want you to know is something all of us Catholics believe.