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Help me think this through - co/ed church overnight activities ...


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My oldest son had this "friend-who-is-a-girl." I like her very much. We've known her and her family for the past eight years. She just invited all three of my oldest sons to join her and her brother at an overnight "game night" at their church.

 

I trust my sons and I trust this girl and her brother, but this is just the weirdest thing to me. Why would a church put a group of kids with the biggest hormones raging locked in a room for a full night? Really. I don't get it. I'd be happier to pick my boys up at 3 am.

 

Am I being a big old prude? I was much wilder at 15/16 than my boys are at the same age. And, dh seems to age 10 years with each birthday (I'm currently married to Ward Cleaver and I'm thinking Spencer Tracy isn't far behind).

 

I don't know this church, but I know the girl-that-is-a-friend's mom pretty well. So part of me is thinking that if it's ok with her, maybe I'm ok with it. But, I'm just not. So, I ask again, am I being a big old prude?

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I guess I'm an old prude too, we don't do sleep overs at all- nada. It doesn't matter how nice the mom is,or the other kids- we just do not do them at all. I think it breeds a level of intimacy and/or casualness not at all wise. I kind of think picking them up at 3 a.m. equals sleeping over, just about. The Bible has many passages about foolishness- I cannot understand why church's love to set up situations like this that encourage and feed foolishness.

 

just my 2 cents...

:lurk5:

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When I was a youth, our church often did whole group lock-ins. We would play games, sing worship songs, watch movies, etc... then when/if anyone got tired there were 2 separate rooms for guys & gals with the other sex not allowed in. These were often well away from each other, too. But, honestly, most of us would just stay up playing all night, lol. Also, the adult/teen ratio was always very high. From my own experience I have no trouble with it... but, like you said - you don't know the church. Surely your dc would be able to understand if you said you were just not comfortable with the situation?

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what is the chaperone ratio. Find out the activities--where they will be, one room, multiple rooms. I went to lock ins with my youth group way back in 1980. I chaperoned lock ins in my 20s (boy it's hard on the adults to stay up all night). The lock ins I've been involved in had many chaperones and teens were with chaperones the whole night.

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But the kids never stop activities, there is NO sleeping. These are heavily chaperoned and rigorously kept moving. Bowling, pizza, worship songs, Bible studies, marathon games, stuff like that. I have another year before our oldest is a teen but I would feel confident that there would be nothing else going on.

(blazing lights, hard chairs, no comfy out of the way spots)

 

Having said that, I was just talking to a dear friend with teens who works in youth ministry and she said that they no longer go to events at the 2 other churches we do things with because they are "make-out fests" :eek:

 

I guess I would try to find out from her Mom which sort of event this would be?

Or someone who attends that church?

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When I was a youth, our church often did whole group lock-ins. We would play games, sing worship songs, watch movies, etc... then when/if anyone got tired there were 2 separate rooms for guys & gals with the other sex not allowed in. These were often well away from each other, too. But, honestly, most of us would just stay up playing all night, lol. Also, the adult/teen ratio was always very high. From my own experience I have no trouble with it... but, like you said - you don't know the church. Surely your dc would be able to understand if you said you were just not comfortable with the situation?

 

Most of us just never slept!

 

I think it depends heavily on the group, the leader, the rules that will be in force that night. I have fond memories of my youth group's slumber parties. If the event is supervised well it'll be a ton of fun.

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Nah, Amy. I think your thoughts and feelings on an overnight activity such as this are right on the money.

 

Though we who were once wild hellions (sp?) imagine what we would have done in such a situation, an overnight event w/o your parental supervision (no one watches or knows our kids like us, as you well know) may not be as attentive to what is going on (especially with a bunch of active teenagers).

 

It just blows a situation wide-open, allowing for many occurrences, kwim?

 

Blessings, Amy!

 

Camy (former wild hellion now married to Ward Cleaver as well; and parent to 14 yo identical twins, hormonal and handsome boys who like sports more than girls....at least right now..grin)

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I'd say no. You do not know the OTHER kids who will also be there. Co-ed overnights are a no-no....this gives you an opportunity to play Mrs. Cleaver along side Ward and emphasize that there will be no co-ed sleepovers until the honeymoon!!!!!!!;)

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Though we who were once wild hellions (sp?) imagine what we would have done in such a situation, an overnight event w/o your parental supervision (no one watches or knows our kids like us, as you well know) may not be as attentive to what is going on (especially with a bunch of active teenagers).

 

 

If this were a bunch of worldly kids, I'd definitely be worried. But I know at my church we have a good bunch of godly kids. I know that kids with hormones will be kids with hormones, but you would think at a church that you WILL have a lot of POSITIVE peer pressure.

 

Just a bunch of hellions would not be doing this with my kids involved...but a bunch of CHRISTIAN kids is another story altogether provided the chaperone situation is covered adequately.

 

I think I would definitely call whoever is in charge to check on such arrangements.

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Not a reflection on your boy at all, but how do you feel about grandkids? These things are just full of potential for trouble. Why would you even put that sort of temptation in front of your boys? They're boys. The girls are girls.

 

I think that these "lock in" things are just stupid. I'm not even going into things I seen with youth groups.

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I've SEEN with my own eyes our group of kids. If our Pastor even got WIND of something Unchristian going on, it would be tossed in a SECOND! We have had an associate pastor or two forced to resign JUST because of how a situation LOOKED to those on the "outside" of the situation. He's THAT picky. He wants NOTHING that even RESEMBLES imprepriaty (how do you spell that).

 

Each to his own...I'm not going to argue the point.

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My husband and I both grew up going to church events like this that were, as a previous poster put it, make-out sessions. If the chaperones are super, I suppose it would be okay. Even then, kids can be very creative at finding ways to pair off - even good kids. How well do you know the adults involved?

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We had several all night traveling game nights--what a blast! The kids went from place to place all night. Bowling, a movie (with kids not allowed to pair up), rock wall climbing, came to our house for an hour long surprise beach birthday party for the youth minister, laser tag, and I think one other thing. They were kept moving the whole time, except at the movie.

 

We've also had lock-ins where the kids spent until midnight doing games, Bible study, worship, and music. The kids are heavily chaperoned, sleep on separate floors, and are not allowed to leave the group (even bathroom visits are chaparoned).

 

I think the ideas behind retreats and lock ins and game nights like these are good ideas--having clean fun, appealing to the interests of the kids, doing something special that is still innocent, and getting away from the pressures of their teen world. So often, Christian kids feel they can't have fun, like their peers. Well, ya, we don't allow drinking, drugs, sex--but there is so much more to having fun than what is typical in the "world." Some kids truly don't know how to have innocent fun that really is a blast!

 

As far as the sex thing, I absolutely agree that you have to be almost hyper vigilant. Movies are not a good idea--more happens in the dark than most moms care to know. And even really good Christian kids can be sexually active--kids you wouldn't suspect. If a church offers these types of game nights, they have to be absolutely on their guard, keep counting the kids, have enough chaperones, and not let anyone even step out of the room to go to their car or the potty w/o an escort.

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There's plenty of other ways to have fun. The whole idea of the girls and boys spending the night together doing activities or whatever, to me, is just wrong. Why do they have to "spend the night?"

 

I think we Christians try to do everything the world does, only put a Christian swing on it. Why bother? It's not necessary to be locked in for the evening to have fun.

 

Sorry, I just can't put in words my contempt for all the nonsense going on out there that's okay because it's a Christian youth group, or church sponsered. I think churches ought to do their job instead of trying to be cool and keep up with the world.

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My oldest son had this "friend-who-is-a-girl." I like her very much. We've known her and her family for the past eight years. She just invited all three of my oldest sons to join her and her brother at an overnight "game night" at their church.

 

I trust my sons and I trust this girl and her brother, but this is just the weirdest thing to me. Why would a church put a group of kids with the biggest hormones raging locked in a room for a full night? Really. I don't get it. I'd be happier to pick my boys up at 3 am.

 

Am I being a big old prude? I was much wilder at 15/16 than my boys are at the same age. And, dh seems to age 10 years with each birthday (I'm currently married to Ward Cleaver and I'm thinking Spencer Tracy isn't far behind).

 

I don't know this church, but I know the girl-that-is-a-friend's mom pretty well. So part of me is thinking that if it's ok with her, maybe I'm ok with it. But, I'm just not. So, I ask again, am I being a big old prude?

 

Well... overnights at church lockins were NEVER a problem when I was a kid. It was the rest of my life that was a problem.

 

Depending on the staff, these might be one of the safest (in the sense of the make-out factor) co-ed church activities your kids could attend. The leaders are aware of what could happen and are determined that it will NOT happen. Activities where the leaders are less vigilant are more of a problem, IMO.

 

I'd be more worried about every other place -- your house, her house, the car, the park, the woods, the library (!!!). (I was a very hormonal teenager. *sigh*)

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Based on my own teen experiences at church-run overnights (ahem), I would not be comfortable with an event like this, even with lots of supervision.

 

Same here . . .ours were "supervised" and guys and girls were supposed to be in separate rooms to sleep, but that's not always what happened. I think it's just too great a temptation. . .

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I didn't read the replies.

 

No, you are not a prude!!!! I feel the same way. We do not even allow any type of Co-ed overnight functions. That is asking for trouble.

 

I have BTDT when I was young. So many things happened during those events when I was younger especially those retreats for teens. ;)

 

Stick to your guns on this issue and your kids will thank you for it. :D

 

Holly

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Depending on the staff, these might be one of the safest (in the sense of the make-out factor) co-ed church activities your kids could attend. The leaders are aware of what could happen and are determined that it will NOT happen. Activities where the leaders are less vigilant are more of a problem, IMO.

 

 

We just had our first overnight activity with the youth group that dh and I help lead, and I agree with Pam here. (The activity wasn't our idea, and we were a bit suprised to hear about it at first, but it worked out very well in the end.) We had a very tightly structured time. We kept the boys and girls separate for much of the time, doing different activities that they each enjoyed, and then we got the two groups together for some specific group activities. The two groups went to separate areas far removed from each other at 11:00 pm, and it was lights out at 12:00. We had no problems at all. Having that extended period together went a long way in helping the group get to know each other better, both the kids and the leaders. I think it will help us as we seek to generate more discussion in Bible study times, now that the kids are more comfortable with one another.

 

As a youth leader's wife, I can tell you for sure that *we* would never allow anything inappropriate to go on. We were well aware of the potential problems, and gave it our full effort to avoid them.

 

Some parents said that they sent their kids with some reservations, but all told us afterward that they were very pleased and relieved with how it went.

 

Erica

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I've SEEN with my own eyes our group of kids. If our Pastor even got WIND of something Unchristian going on, it would be tossed in a SECOND! We have had an associate pastor or two forced to resign JUST because of how a situation LOOKED to those on the "outside" of the situation. He's THAT picky. He wants NOTHING that even RESEMBLES imprepriaty (how do you spell that).

 

Each to his own...I'm not going to argue the point.

 

I understand but....at my church the youth minister is a KID himself. He sees nothing wrong with stuff that is going on in these events. He is a party kid himself.

 

I do understand though there are few youth ministers who really do keep things moving and open in regards to these type of situations. More often than not I see otherwise...kids roudy, unruly and alot of kids find places to hide to do who knows what....He doesn't batt an eye on this either. The same goes for my parents church.

 

I am glad you have a great youth minister who really do see things that can happen. :001_smile:

 

Holly

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By definition, a prude is excessively concerned about propriety and decorum. There's nothing "excessive" about not supporting a co-ed church youth group overnighter. Your stance is a sane reaction to a silly activity. And silly activities in today's church youth groups do seem to abound...

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I would allow co-ed sleepovers the same as I would allow single gender sleepovers. There will be adults there, so I wouldn't worry at all.

 

My rational for why there is no difference between the two? Well, your kid is just friends with this girl. How is it different from being friends with a boy? If you don't let your son sleep over with girls because he might be sexually attracted to them, what will you do if your son is gay? Will he then be allowed to sleep over with girls but not boys? If he is bisexual, will he not be allowed any sleepovers?

 

The other plain fact is that teens will figure out a way to do things they want to do even if you don't want them to do it. If they are determined to have sex, they can find 20 minutes alone time with the person to do it. So I think it's much more effective to raise them so they understand why waiting is important, etc... and then trust them with that, then to try and watch them 24/7.

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Based on my own teen experiences at church-run overnights (ahem), I would not be comfortable with an event like this, even with lots of supervision.

 

:iagree: Without going into details, I always found even the most "godly" bunch at lock-ins had a few folks desperate for some serious carnal activities. And where there's a will, there's a way.

 

I also found the supervision lower because everyone assumed that we were all "good kids" who wouldn't do anything "like that".

 

And, regardless of your views on contraception, I always found it in very short supply at lock-ins. Something about the environment encouraged sacrilege and risky behavior.

 

I have theological reasons for opposing these sorts of things, too. But as a parent my first concern is physical/s*xual/emotional.

 

Just say no.

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I don't understand these events either. I'm not a lover of sleepovers of any kind let alone the kind you've described.

 

I am very cautious with the situations I put my children in though. I don't want to ever be sorry for approving something that ends up trouble.

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Sorry, I just can't put in words my contempt for all the nonsense going on out there that's okay because it's a Christian youth group, or church sponsered. I think churches ought to do their job instead of trying to be cool and keep up with the world.

 

What else can I do but say...:iagree:

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Amy,

 

Always trust your gut feelings. If it doesn't feel right, there is a reason for that feeling - listen to it. No need to ever feel like you have to apologize for it either. Think back to how many times trusting your gut has saved you or your sons.

 

:grouphug:

Dana

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Would you host a co-ed spend the night in your home? Why not?

 

I don't see any reason to have co-ed sleepovers - whether they are in private homes or churches. What is the value in it? I'd rather see my boys go on a "guys trip" with the men from church - go camping, fishing, on a retreat - whatever. I don't really think they get that much out of hanging out with teenaged girls all night, and they just come home so grumpy and miserable. No thanks.

 

And I don't see any reason to send girls off for a big "over night" with the boys, no matter how supervised. What is the churching hoping they will get out of it?

 

I would just say "we don't do co-ed overnights" and move on. I don't really care what the setting is. I don't see a good reason to have boys and girls up all night together, and it wouldn't make a difference to me that it's a "Christian setting."

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There's plenty of other ways to have fun. The whole idea of the girls and boys spending the night together doing activities or whatever, to me, is just wrong. Why do they have to "spend the night?"

 

I think we Christians try to do everything the world does, only put a Christian swing on it. Why bother? It's not necessary to be locked in for the evening to have fun.

 

Sorry, I just can't put in words my contempt for all the nonsense going on out there that's okay because it's a Christian youth group, or church sponsered. I think churches ought to do their job instead of trying to be cool and keep up with the world.

 

 

 

Our church has done this. I don't feel it's their job to provide overnight housing for our children; that's our job. Nor is it their job to be chaperoning teenage hormones (yes, even Christian teenage hormones) all night; it's my job.

 

Why in the world overnighters? I just flat out don't get it. End the party/movie night/whatever at 11:00 or 12:00 and send the kids home to mom and dad.

 

I'm not going to go there. It might be fine. It might not. It's not a door I want to open.

 

Janet

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I haven't read any responses, but I'll give you my youth pastor's wife response. We do these- we call them "lock-Ins." the student are all in one very large room, closely supervised, not allowed to wander to ther parts of the building. The most important element is that they are kept busy. There are games, songs, activities into the wee hours of the night. They exhaust the kids, it's not just hanging out. They're fun. If I were you, my comfort level would lie in what the plans are for the evening. Hth,

 

Eta: Also, I'd want to know how many adult leaders will be there and if they are staying up all night. Our AL's do not go to sleep.

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I had one of my first "experiences" in a closet at a church youth event, egged on by the other kids, at eleven years old. Checking into the church is a good ides, but I would in general say NO. No matter how well they are chaperoned, kids will be kids and stuff like what happened to me will happen. I eventually left the church youth group a few years later because it was unbearably clicky and sexually charged. Just my .02.

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Am I the only one who is bothered by the fact that they don't let the kid's sleep? Maybe it is because I have a sleep-disorder (and have always needed my sleep) but depriving people of sleep does not help them to make the best decisions. Then when they are already fuzzy in their thinking you put them in with other teens - esp. with ones of the opposite sex? Invite the girl and her family to your home for dinner and a game night!

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I'm with Remundmom and Colleen. It is just ridiculous and I would never allow it. I don't care how much adult supervision or how many activities that are planned....a bunch of hormonally charged teens do not need to spend the night with another set of hormally charged teens of the opposite sex.

 

I also agree with Jean....why keep kids awake all night like that with music and lights and games....?

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This is such an interesting thread--I really value all the opinions, and even those I don't agree with make me think about why I feel as I do, and that is a wonderful thing.

 

I wanted to throw something else into the mix--Those who don't allow church co-ed events at night, how do you feel about youth mission trips that are co-ed? Ds is on one right now with our youth group. They do not sleep in the same room as the girls (they board in high schools around the country--this year, they are in Savannah). Just wondering. It's for high schoolers only.

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. I wanted to throw something else into the mix--Those who don't allow church co-ed events at night, how do you feel about youth mission trips that are co-ed? Ds is on one right now with our youth group. They do not sleep in the same room as the girls (they board in high schools around the country--this year, they are in Savannah). Just wondering. It's for high schoolers only.

 

I would not allow it. I wonder why it has to be such a big number of teens for it to be considered fun? My mom took my girlfriend and our siblings on many an outing....some out of town. Sometimes she even brought along a boy our age if he was our friend. Or we would get together at the river with several other families, some of which had teen boys, and spend several hours together. We would swim, and eat and laugh and talk and then swim some more. We would all go to our own homes at dusk and sleep like rocks. I think a lot of times people in general find it difficult to stop the fun.

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I just wanted to add something that has been niggling at the back of my mind since this thread started. There seems to be an attitude of "Christian" kids wouldn't be engaged in unwholesome behaviors in this thread. And if they are doing, gasp, those things, then they aren't really good Christian kids.

 

The fact is that there are Good Christian Kids having sex all the time. Kids who love the Lord and desire to please Him. Just like there are good Christian moms who gossip, and good Christian dads who put their favorite football team before their church. Because all of those good Christians are human beings who are tempted and fall short every day.

 

One of my role models growing up got pregnant at 16. It was devastating to all of us. But, you know what? To this day she is still my role model. Because making a mistake and ending up pregnant didn't change who she was at the core - a wonderful Christian girl. Today she's been married 26 years to the same man, has 4 fabulous kids, and loves the Lord.

 

To be blind to the fact that everyone is subject to temptation is asking to have grandchildren before your children can support them. That doesn't mean that allowing your** child to go to such an event condemns them to a life of sexual depravity:lol:, but if your** child does go you** really need to take the blinders off and know what the heck is going on.

 

I don't want to offend anyone, but I felt like that really needed to be said.

 

**That's the general "you" not you, specifically, Amy!

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The fact is that there are Good Christian Kids having sex all the time. Kids who love the Lord and desire to please Him. Just like there are good Christian moms who gossip, and good Christian dads who put their favorite football team before their church. Because all of those good Christians are human beings who are tempted and fall short every day.

 

 

To be blind to the fact that everyone is subject to temptation is asking to have grandchildren before your children can support them. That doesn't mean that allowing your** child to go to such an event condemns them to a life of sexual depravity:lol:, but if your** child does go you** really need to take the blinders off and know what the heck is going on.

 

 

 

:iagree: I know too many people who lost their virginity at a youth group function. I don't keep mine locked in a closet, and I want them to be comfortable around the opposite sex, but I draw the line at lock-ins and hay rides.:D We try to have family events that appeal to our young people, including dancing (reels and other group dances and swing dancing), but even there things have to be watched very carefully.

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I don't know, Amy. Teens can answer the hormonal call at any time of day, not just at night. Do you never let these kids be alone together for long periods of time? Also, if her siblings are planning to be present, I'd assume that no hanky panky will go on. I can't think of any teenage girl who likes to get romantic in front of her brother.

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It depends on the event and the church. At my church, the children would be totally supervised. It would also be a "lockin" meaning it is against the rules to leave the building or the area where things are done.

 

I did go with my sister to her church recently and found it to be a place where the adults have no common sense at all. It was really shocking actually, the level of bad judgement going on there. There is no way I would send my children there without me in the middle of the day let alone at night.

 

So ask yourself what you really think of the church and the people who work there to decide if you want to leave your teens there at night. In my opinion, as long as there is nothing wrong with the church, it should be fine.

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. . . lock-ins are not for them, I did want to answer some of your questions as to why churches do them. Especially since some people questioned the validity of youth groups trying to provide fun activities for their kids.

 

A) Fun activities are in and of themselves a good thing. Lock ins are for youth what potlucks and caroling and cocoa and picnics are for adults. My church holds just. plain. fun. events for grown-ups, for youth, and for the whole church family all the time. It's one of the ways families grow together--by having fun together. If you see co-ed overnights as necessarily evil, then, no, a "Christian" version won't make you feel any better. But I don't see adequately supervised events that happen to be over night as necessarily evil. I wouldn't treat this any differently than I'd treat an overnight camp or a high school choir trip where the boys and girls have separate dorms.

 

B) Lock ins are also mini-retreats. If you've ever gone on a retreat with your church, you may notice that "getting away from it all" can sometimes help you be more open to hearing what you need to hear. Youth ministers sometimes use lock ins to help create that sense of "getting away" without all the expense of a formal retreat setting.

 

I would echo what many, many people said about the need for adequate supervision, though. As a teen, those were the only kind of lock-ins I participated in, and that would be an absolute requirement for me to allow ds on a lock in. The two or three that my dh ran in Paris were very attentive to security, supervision, and age-appropriateness. I wouldn't let my kids go on one that wasn't run by someone at least as serious about those things as dh was.

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The fact is that there are Good Christian Kids having sex all the time. Kids who love the Lord and desire to please Him. Just like there are good Christian moms who gossip, and good Christian dads who put their favorite football team before their church. Because all of those good Christians are human beings who are tempted and fall short every day.

 

Well said!!!

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