Perspectives on the Teen Teams
I have been to the T & T as well as the TT, and I know the emotional and social pressures brought to bear during those times. It is a pump up time, emtionally, to help the teens feel like they really are involved despite the realities they are faced with every day.
Unfortunately, cliques have been a very real part of the Teen Team and Teen Conference, just as they are "in the world".
I saw it first hand at many a Teen Conference. There were the "in" group tables and the other kind, embarrassed. You could see it on the faces of the kids who were left out that it was a very difficult thing. Indeed, if you were in any way different from the more popular Assembly teens you felt it painfully.
In talking to teens who have attended both activites, I would say that the teens in the Assembly were often no different than their peers "in the world" except for a lot of Bible talk and knowledge. Does that mean that many of the teens were not sincerely seeking God. No. They were often just acting their age. What has distressed me the most over the years though, is the prideful attitude in the teens - something they got, no doubt, from their elders, me included.
• I was wondering how many teens who are reading this website think that the teen team and T & T conferences were some of the best times of your life. And I'm talking about learning and fellowship both. They were for me. --Joseph R
• I would have to respond with a resounding chorus of definitely "no". The Teen Conference was a a mostly miserable experience of feeling left out. The spiritual teaching that went on there for the teens was of the, "You are not perfect enough, self is still on the throne" variety. It is a rotten and damaging theology. One thing I remember, too, is how I wasn't good at sports. This was the only sanctioned social activity by the Assembly.
The irony was that we were competing with each other, while talking about self not being on the throne. Yeah, sure. I was left on the margins where I mostly read thick books which made people think I was wierd. Whew! Some repressed memories coming up there!!!
• I had both the best times of my life and the worst times of my life while on trips with the Assembly (Teen teacher conference, Teen Team, Nebraska canoe trips, camp, etc.). Did the good outweigh the bad? Probably not.
I was miserable at camp up until this past year, and over Teen Team, I did find it cliquish. I dont know about the guys in the Assembly, but the girls are VERY cliquish. and I was the kid everyone made fun of at camp and stuff, because I was different. I hated going to camp. I had some fun, true. and I made some friends. But I was put through alot of ridicule, because I wasnt pretty, funny, or "cool" enough.
One year, a group of girls made fun of me the entire week of camp. My own best friend didnt stick up for me, and the only person who went out to me at all was Danielle Starr. She was the most awesome counselor I have ever had and if anything could outweigh the agony I went through, it would be meeting her.
There were two other good things that have happened at camp though: the year after that one of the girls came back at the end of the week and apologized in tears for treating me so badly. We've been good friends since. and the year before this year, another girl came back and apologized for basically everything. We've been friends since as well.
• One of the reasons why I've had a hard time with teen team, camp, and the conferences is that I've always been ridiculed for being different no matter where I was. And as a kid I felt like..."these are christians, don't christians love each other and treat each other better then this?"
I've realized since that many of the people who had treated me badly didn't have a real walk with the Lord. That doesnt make it hurt less, but understanding is the first step towards healing.
I became very depressed because of how I was treated by people, not just those in the Assembly. but depression is a choice. And I don't blame my depression on the people who treated me badly, but they sure didn't help much.
I had a hard time on teen team, partially because I'm anti-social, partially because I found it to be cliquish, and partially because of my house. But I am glad I went. It was a good experience, and Mammoth was really pretty. Plus, I got alot of time to work on my sketching.
And even though I havent stayed in touch very well, I made alot of friends and met alot of people I would have never had a chance to meet if I hadn't gone.