Blog/CYM Blog Summer as Opportunity by Joe Chernowski Game nights, movie nights, bible studies, mass and lunch days, baseball games, ultimate frisbee games, praise & worship nights… the list of summer planning opportunities is endless. I’m not referring to the mission trips, Steubenville Conferences, Life Teen Camp, or other “big” events that would demand long-term planning and fundraising. Instead, I’m referring to what we’re doing all those other weeks of summer that we’re not jumping into mud-pits, praising Jesus with thousands of teens, or walking teens through serving those less fortunate. My first year in ministry, summer crept up on me. It was the week before our last Life Night, and somehow it never dawned on me to organize summer events beyond our big trips. It hit me: I had nothing local planned for three months! So I hastily put together a schedule for the summer than included game nights, prayer nights, and a few fun social outings. All without actually considering the purpose of any of them other than, well, these are sort of the components we should include. As I grew in ministry experience (got older), I became a little better at this. And I started viewing summer, as an opportunity. Many of these same components still existed in my summer plans, but I assembled it all with more intentionality. The opportunity I am referring to is the freedom of schedule so many high schoolers have during the summer months. Without school and homework taking the bulk of their time, there is more weeknight availability and even openness during weekdays. What better time of year to get to know more of the teens in your parish than in the freedom of summer? Is there a better, less schedule-restrictive time, to better get to know those teens you already know? Social events became focused on bringing in new teens and challenging our Core Team to invest in those new teens. Bible studies focused on taking those who already had faith deeper into scripture, helping them to form scripture reading and prayer habits. Praise and game nights were a combination created to take those interested teens just a little bit further down the road of faith. Mass and lunch days were focused more on those teens who already were pretty involved. It was a great chance to bring them to mass with our parish community and have fun and fellowship afterward. As the schedule shifts from the (somewhat) routine of the school year, remember that we cannot base our summer entirely around the big events (and their well-thought-out follow-up!). Many teens may not be able to attend these, and there may be others who just aren’t as impacted as we hope, and there are still more teens that we just need to get to know! I invite you to plan this summer with specific intention and purpose. What are the goals of your summer offerings? If you can’t answer that to your pastor or at a staff meeting, perhaps you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall. Which can certainly be fun. But it’s also a waste of spaghetti.