Saturday, April 25, 2015

30 Hour Famine

One of my favorite activities from my former youth director days was the 30 Hour Famine. This is an international event where students fast for 30 hours, all while raising funds and awareness of world hunger. They typically complete devotions, service projects, and educational activities about hunger.

None of my current youth had ever participated in the fast, so I knew it was something I wanted them to experience. I found it to be more mentally draining than previous experiences. It was a lot easier eight years ago when I had all the time in the world to plan events, a church van to drive everyone around, no need for childcare, and hips that didn't ache while sleeping on the floor. While you could technically complete the 30 Hour Famine any weekend, this is the designated weekend when most youth groups across the globe participate. I had told the youth about it several weeks ago, though I got caught up in Easter and birthdays and definitely procrastinated in planning. I stayed up until 1 am on Thursday and spent several hours on Friday coming up with an agenda. I felt like a school teacher planning my lessons for the week on Sunday night. (I do not miss those days!) Here's what I came up with for our time together:

At 21 months old, this was the first time I left the trio overnight. I mostly felt guilty about leaving Jesse for the day, rather than missing the kids. Of course, I still had to bring all four kids with me to church since the teens got out of school before Jesse did. Thankfully the youth love children and were great babysitters while I made copies and compiled a packet full of devotionals, directions, and activities.

Clearly the boys didn't mind the attention the teens gave them.

After Jesse picked up the kids and we completed our first devotional, we went to the sanctuary to watch a movie. The hour long documentary is about four college students who move to a rural village in Guatemala for three months, surviving on an average of $1 a day. I had watched this before a few months ago out of my own curiosity, and was relieved to discover it was still featured on Netflix. After an hour long tutorial from the pastor on Wednesday, I didn't have any technical difficulties with the projector, soundboard, or internet connection.

I was relieved that the youth were just as intrigued as I was and found the documentary to be informative and interesting. We had some downtime after the video discussion, then began the "SNAP Challenge". The challenge was issued years ago, though it regained popularity as the $29 a week Food Stamp Challenge. The average daily SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) allowance is $4.15 per person, per day--hence the $29 weekly budget. Since our youth group would not be together for a week, I simply asked them to create a full weeks menu with a strict budget of $29.

The youth were able to price items, answer questions (and even receive advice) from other customers, and learn the difficulty of balancing a strict budget while eating a nutritious variety of food.

After returning to the church, we worked on Youth Sunday plans and hung out. It's hard to have a lot of energy when you haven't eaten lunch or dinner. Thankfully everyone was asleep by 11:30 pm. (Note to self: bring air mattress for future lock-ins!)

Our morning was spent at the local food bank, sorting through thousands of donated items. We did not handle any food. Our specific task was to go through thousands of items donated from WalMart. We had to:
  • check expiration dates
  • mark lines through every barcode so the items cannot be returned
  • sort them into boxes (medical, cosmetic, nutrition supplements, feminine hygiene, etc)
  • package and stack the boxes onto pallets
Among more common items, we also came across condoms, pregnancy tests, and loose pads. The teens were so mature and handled everything like adults. I was so impressed. One of our guys became the regular "feminine hygiene runner", carrying a mountain of boxes of pads and tampons down the aisles.

The next thing on our agenda was what I had been most looking forward to. I planned a photo scavenger hunt uptown. This activity was not meant to be! Our first problem was it was raining and people weren't outside. We relocated to a large mall and adapted our list. The teens were excited and had a burst of energy. Not even ten minutes into the hunt, one of the girls called me to say their group was stopped by a mall cop on a power trip, who informed them that the mall was a private place and scavenger hunts were strictly prohibited. She threatened to kick them out. Who knew? 

With only a few hours left to go, our spirits were down and everyone was lethargic and bored. We decided to complete some of the items on the photo scavenger hunt at the church just for fun.

After a final devotion and reflection, the youth voted to break their fast at CiCi's. They made up for not eating for 30 hours at the all you can eat buffet. Hopefully no one got sick afterwards!

This random guy tried to photo bomb our picture.
We told him to pose anyway, since that was one of the photos from the list.
My least favorite thing about being youth director is driving teenagers home or waiting around at the church for their parents to show up. I was beyond ready to go home (especially since we were having Jesse's family over an hour later), but I had to wait on parents longer than expected.

I hope the youth felt closer to God and one another during their experience. I enjoyed being able to organize activities and help facilitate their first 30 Hour Famine. 


  1. Photo scavenger hunts were always so much fun! I remember the Red Cross couch race where we had to stop because the police didn't want us standing in their fountain! ;)

    1. Yes! I loved the couch race and still tell people about it! That's a lot to pull off considering I couldn't even find a second chaperone, much less two pick up trucks and couches.

  2. Well planned event BonnieKat! It's surely an experience to remember for all of them.