Thursday, May 28, 2009


This post sets the record so far for shortest title for a post, yet leaves enough wiggle room for one or two to slip by there. Feel the suspense!

On Wednesday nights for the last, oh, I don't know, maybe ten years or so, I've been going to a youth activity night at our church, called "Recreation," or "Rec," as the cool kids call it. In a nutshell, it's an hour and a half of getting together, playing games, getting sweaty, and having fun. The faces running it have changed, and the games and people playing them have changed, but it's been a pleasure to participate for all this time.

Each night of Rec usually starts with a large mesh bag (or two) of balls. A few basketballs, about six or seven cheap dollar store nine-inch balls, maybe a soccer ball or kickball of sorts, a smaller wiffleball-type ball, and maybe a frisbee or two thrown in for good measure. The gym is (intentionally or otherwise) littered with the balls for the first fifteen minutes or so, and all of the kids run around throwing them into the basketball hoops a/o each other. After this, some sort of organized game starts to form. Dodgeball, kickball, ultimate frisbee, or some variant of one of those. (And trust me, we have a lot of variants.)

Part of the fun lies in those bizarre variants. Dodgeball is a fairly run-of-the-mill game. Dodgeball where you can only kick the ball is different. Dodgeball where you become a member of the other team when you get hit is strange (but ensures that everyone wins. Yay!). Dodgeball where everyone plays on a team by themselves is fairly common, but dodgeball where everyone plays on a team by themselves and as soon as the person who got you out gets out, you get back in, meaning that the only way to win the game is to effectively knock every single person out of the game at least once without getting nailed yourself, that's not as common.

There was one time when, I can't remember how, we got the center of a hubcap from someone's vehicle. It was basically a seven-inch round piece of aluminum with SUBARU printed across it. This became the centerpiece of a game of ultimate frisbee. It was nearly impossible to throw with any consistant accuracy, and it didn't help that there were probably only three people per team, but it was one of the most fun ways to risk getting tetanus that I've ever experienced.

Similarly, a game of frisbee outside in the former front yard of the elementary school went slightly haywire when someone threw the frisbee and hit the flagpole. Someone declared, "Well, that's two points for our team!" And pole frisbee was born. Goals are still worth only one point, but hitting the flagpole with the frisbee got you two points. Pole shots could only be taken if the pole was still "forward" along your team's offensive line, although you could pass back to a teammate behind the line, and they could hit it from there. Scores would often reach ridiculously high numbers (occasionally in the 40's or 50's), yet very few goals were ever scored.

As I got older, everyone else who came started getting younger. Or at least, it felt like that. Eventually, I was one of the few high schoolers who still attended, and one of the few college students who came back to help (ie, play). There were a few kids who also grew up with Rec, and it's still pretty neat to see them change from these young, annoying little kids, to these bizarrely mature high schoolers, then they disappear again until the summer.

The leadership's changed hands a couple of times at Rec, but it's not really ever lost its shine. The most recent "version" (for lack of a better word) has a prayer time in the middle, which is really neat, and is a cool way to minister to the neighborhood kids who come, but might not regularly attend a church. All in all, the same friendly spirit has been maintained for well over a decade now, and I felt somehow compelled to write about it in a blog post. (*shrug) What's it called when you're currently living through something you know you'll later recall as nostalgia?