In my decluttering efforts, I ran across a videotape made by our church when our youth group attended the National LCMS Youth Gathering in New Orleans in 1992. I had just graduated from high school and I went with the youth from my church before I started college. The videotape was about 1/2 a hour long. It was just some shots of going to Six Flags on the way there, some of the "church" services and activities we did there, and some of the sightseeing we did. I was one of the oldest ones in my group as I had not attended the Denver youth gathering (was that in 1989?) and most of my classmates had attended that one and only went once. On this trip to New Orleans I became better friends with my friend Kristy who eventually was one of my bridesmaids. My dad was the vacancy pastor at a small church outside of my hometown. About 5 of their youth plus a chaperone came with our large church. I enjoyed having them as part of our group.
The videotape-I wasn't smiling in very many of the shots of me. Our group was large-almost 50 of us on a bus with a few chaperones. This was frustrating because it was so many people to keep track of-it seemed like we waited to get the group going more than we actually went and did anything. Also, the conservative LCMS in me hated the actual youth gathering. Especially when a pastor came to our section during the communion service and winked at me and said, "Hey ladies, you get to give each other communion today for once!" And I could tell from the videotape that even then we all thought a lot of the planned events were dumb. 18 years later they are even more ridiculous! Our group had good chaperones and as far as I know we all behaved. But we heard horror stories about what other LCMS youth did at the hotels while we were there. I think 20,000 youth is just too many. I did enjoy the sightseeing and being with friends so the time wasn't totally wasted. But I enjoyed going to New Orleans with the CUW Wind Ensemble a few years later much more than this trip.
I am so thankful that my Lambs will have a chance to do Higher Things Youth Gatherings. I would forbid my Lambs to ever participate in something like what I attended in 1992. I don't think our Lambs even will have a desire to go with 20,000 other Lutherans-it's just too big for them after living in a town of 113. I think of how much money we had to raise to go to the National Youth Gathering-it was a lot of car washes, taking donations, and other fundraisers plus a lot of our own money. I think of how much it cost for LCMS to run the youth gathering. Since there wasn't Higher Things yet, I think I would have preferred to go with my family to some place like New Orleans and do our own sightseeing and go to a good LCMS church if we were there on a Sunday.
Did any of you readers attend a National Youth Gathering? Do any of your churches still attend the National Youth Gathering?