We took the youth group to the WinterJam concert a couple of weeks ago. If you have ever taken groups to concerts or conferences you know how the logistics can drive you crazy. It was a good concert, but it was a little crazy keeping everyone together. I have mixed feelings about concerts with general admission seating. On one hand, you just show up for the concert and don’t have to worry about getting tickets in advance or worry about youth backing out at the last minute. On the other hand, it is almost always a challenge to get enough seats together for a large group.
We left after church and heading to the mall for a few hours before the concert. We left with plenty of time to get to the concert, or so we thought. We didn’t anticipate having to sit in traffic for over 30 minutes trying to take the exit to get to the arena. The concert was at an old coliseum and they honestly didn’t have enough police to help with traffic to get people in. We could see the place, we just couldn’t get there! We ended up having to send a group of adults and older teens to walk in and save some seats. The parking police also separated our two vans into two totally separate parking areas. Not good when you need to follow each other to get out. We were also planning on eating pizza in the parking lot while waiting for the doors to open. Well, the doors opened while we were stuck in traffic, so that didn’t happen. Luckily they let us take the pizza in to eat and we had just enough seats to get everyone crammed in.
So the moral of the story is … when it comes to youth ministry, you always have to be super flexible. Don’t let things that are out of your control like traffic and parking arrangements ruin a trip. The youth are always looking to your example in how to handle difficult situations. If you get mad or frustrated then it is infectious, it spreads to everyone else. There’s nothing worse than a whole group complaining and fussing about stupid things! So be prepared, be creative, be resourceful, and always look for ways to teach by example in difficult moments. Remember, it’s not just the youth who are looking to the youth leader for leadership, it is also the other adult volunteers. In the past, I have had to pull adults to the side and talk to them about their complaining. It really does spread through the group like wildfire.
For any concert promoters out there that may happen to read this, please remember to take into account groups who are traveling a long ways to get to your concert. For us, we have at least a 2 hour drive to go anywhere, so it makes it very difficult to navigate traffic and parking with a convoy of cars and vans. Make it easy for us to park together and sit together as well. It is hard to watch over and shepherd your younger students when they are not all together. I look forward to the day when we can take a bus to events. I have done that in the past and it makes it so easy to get where you are going and stay together. But for the vast majority of youth leaders, we are struggling to focus on ministry while handling all the logistics at the same time. This concert actually started earlier than advertised and went way later than we anticipated. Details like that will drive a youth worker crazy. Any way that you can help is greatly appreciated. Thanks for letting me do some constructive venting.