Are you concerned about the next generation? About kids now-a-days? Do you think they are unkind, lazy or disrespectful? I’m here to tell you that is not true. Or at least not true for the 18 kids I spent 3 days with recently.
When it comes to gift-giving, I’d rather give an experience than things. So for my son Jon’s highschool graduation gift and party, we rented our friend’s bay house and told Jon he can invite some friends. The house comfortably holds about 14, so we discussed inviting around 12. Jon can be a social butterfly and he doesn’t want anyone to feel left out, so when the final tally was done, there were 18 teens joining the fun. (thankfully they don’t mind sleeping on the floor and sharing bathrooms)
The bay teens (minus one who had to leave early)
I wondered how it would all work out, but there was no need to worry … all went well. If these kids are any example of the next generation, the world is going to be just fine. Before you assume I was with a ‘perfect’ segment of kids that all come from ‘perfect’ homes and situations … I wasn’t. But they are all kids that I will watch as they move forward in life, because I’m impressed.
4 things the teens impressed me with:
1. Willingness to help
Each teen paid a nominal fee for the trip, then I supplied all the food with help from my friend Deb (mother to one of Jon’s friends) No one had to bring food, but some of the girls volunteered, so I suggested baked goods. I was blown away at all the food they brought … delicious brownies (chocolate cream cheese, apple carmel and more) and loaves of pumpkin, chocolate chip and banana bread. (Yes, I tried them all)
Most of the group arrived at the same time and the kids were anxious to explore the dock and the water front. I asked if they could come back in ten minutes to help unload (you can imagine how many bags and coolers of food we had) My expectations for how many kids would return was low … but my pleasant surprises continued. Every kid returned and grabbed whatever Jerry handed to them. All I had to do was stand inside the door directing the flow of supplies and after a few minutes we were finished.
At our first meal, I passed around a signup list to help with cleanup after each meal. I wondered how many slots would be filled … and most were. Not only did they signup, they showed up! After each meal, 3 kids were ready to do whatever was needed. Many began cleanup without me even asking … they went ahead with washing dishes, collecting trash, etc. Most times, all I had to do was tell them what to do with the leftovers (which were minimal and usually gone by the next morning) This gave Debbie (her dog) and I time to kayak once or twice a day.
Deb and Charlie
2. Being kind
Though I told the kids they only had to help with meal cleanup (I would rather do prep work and cook) when kids who weren’t on the boat saw me prepare a meal, they often volunteered to help.
The highlight for the kids was Jerry pulling them on a wakeboard or on tubes behind our boat. It’s hard to make sure each kid has equal time, but with a little monitoring by Jerry, the kids were kind and generous with each other, making sure everyone had a turn everyday.
When I was accidently
taken out nailed in the eye by a marshmallow during the marshmallow fight (what else was I going to do with a huge bag of marshmallows after I found out it was too dry to have a bonfire?) many of the kids were concerned about my eye … even asking about it the next day.
Thanks to the kids, we had time to relax
3. Hard work
Some of Jon’s friends are younger, so they will be back in highschool playing sports in the fall. Even with their coaches miles again and while their friends were boating and playing games, they followed their coaches recommendations and did their summer workouts and runs.
At first, Deb and I planned to send everyone home and the two of us clean the house after they leave … figuring it would be easier once everyone is gone. But when the last day arrived, we were tired, so I made a list of cleanup chores and passed it around. By now the kids had impressed me, but I was still skeptic about how many of the slots would be filled. Again, they signed up and showed up. At clean up time. Deb tackled the kitchen, while I handed out cleaning supplies, monitored the process and took care of odd jobs … and before long the place was sparkling.
4. Living life to the fullest: at play and at work
Many of the kids had not tubed or wakeboarded before, but all wanted to try one or both activities. Wake-boarding is difficult to learn … but many kids opted to try and they did not give up easily, even with repeated false starts, falls and face plants.
Tubing is easy, but it’s tiring, especially with Jerry driving the boat in a zig-zag fashion and/or in half-circles and two kids on two tubes playing a water version of king-on-the-mountain. By the last day, though they were exhausted, but I heard many say that they wanted go one more time before we go home.
They didn’t want to miss an opportunity to have fun.
I came home impressed and hopeful about the future. True, teens (like adults) aren’t perfect. They stayed up later than I think is wise. (though I did the same when I was a teen) They ate lots of fruit, but not enough vegetables. I was lost with some of their jokes and slang words. There was an issue or two that had to be talked through, but overall the kids were great. So my advice is stop stressing about teens and about the future. With these kind, helpful, hard working teens-turned-into-adults in charge, the future is going to be fine.
Do you have confidence in the next generation? Why or why not?
For more pictures, see this album on Facebook.