This is the first of 2 posts about my 2 weeks of mayhem. Both were great, but there's a lot to tell. The next post will cover our vacation.

Week 1: CHIC (Covenant High In Christ)- the triennial youth conference for our denomination. This was my first time attending, and it did not disappoint. Well, I would have liked to bond a little bit more with my girls, but oh well.

We all had our fabulous matching t-shirts at the airport bright & early on Saturday morning, so that we could more easily keep track of our group of 42. (This picture was taken on our last day, waiting for the flight home. Thanks, Susie.) The CHIC logo is the weird yellow thing, so our staff designed PacMan themed shirts because of the resemblance.

After hanging out at the airport for quite a while, we boarded our plane to Nashville, with all of us taking up the rear of the plane. I was in the very back row with a girl who had never flown before and one of my sweet girls who brings nothing on flights with her because she wants to talk. (And I complain about not bonding!) We tease each other about that.

We rented minivans in Nashville & spend the night in town, taking over a local restaurant for dinner, followed by the swarming of the hotel pool. The next day, we drove to Knoxville, which was a beautiful drive to a cute town.

We stayed in dorms, which were fine. All the kids roomed together, and adults roomed together. That was nice. The campus is HUGE and Tennessee is HOT, so there was weight loss, for sure. Lots of sweating and walking. Even at 8 in the morning, we were sweaty. I love the South, but I'm glad I live in CA where there's dry heat.

Each day consisted of breakfast in a nearby dorm, followed by 2 group sessions somewhere else on campus dealing with the topics of relating to yourself, to God, to the World, and to Others. Most of them were very good. One dealt with faking it and putting on masks, another was a great worship session that felt very real & jam-like. Another had an exercise about judging people that was good, and there was also a day educating us on human trafficking (there is a LOT of it. Seriously).

The afternoons were filled with free time for the kids to do anything they wanted, including a number of excursions. There were sports tournaments of all kinds, chess, crafts, swimming, water slides, bowling, bands playing outside. It was great. I mostly wandered with Susie (blue tank top on the left above), and sometimes tried to take a nap. One day, though, I did run into town (really, I ran. It was hot.) to buy Harry Potter tickets, as it opened the Wednesday we were there. That afternoon, 20 of us walked/ran into downtown Knoxville to watch the movie, which was a lot of fun. Another afternoon, I went white water rafting with Susie & 3 of the girls, which was great. I had never done it before, and we had a lot of fun, especially laughing at one of our girls falling out of the raft.
The evenings were dinner in the dorm, then Main Stage, which was at the arena. About 8000 people gathered for concerts, worship, and speakers. All the speakers were very good, but I believe that Shane Claiborne was the best, and the kids loved him, too. After you look at his site, you'll say, "Of course you loved the commune-living hippie, Robin!"

We also saw the David Crowder Band, which was more fun than I expected; Flyleaf, which was very loud and I took too long to start dancing and get into it; Israel Houghton & New Breed, which I loved due to nostalgia for his leading worship at Lakewood; and Third Day, who I liked and respected much more than I thought I would do. Also, on the first night, the daughter of our speaker, Erwin McManus, played with her band, Glare of Rockets, which is my new favorite band. (When you listen on myspace, know that live her voice didn't feel so sweet & they were much more dark & wall-of-sound feeling. She's like a mixture of Paramore & Mazzy Starr.)

Some of our students won the short film contest, and the video doesn't appear to be his youtube page, so I'll post it later. It was pretty funny. People learned, cried, bonded, grew. It was good. We were at Main Stage until at least 11pm every night, and ate pizza every night after. Got about 6 hours of sleep or less, sweated, trekked, had a good time. I got a foot massage in the airport before our departing flight, which was lovely. I'll definitely go again, but hopefully, a bunch of us won't get sick next time.