Sleep Out Saturday

Gonna try live blogging Sleep Out Saturday. Haven’t done that before so bear with me…

Home preparing to go on a bike ride with our kids. Being away from them is the hardest part of any overnight youth event.

In the next day or two, I’ll share more SOS insights from WUMC teenagers in a separate post.

Finally, huge THANK YOU to all our amazing adult leaders: Kathy, Christine, Kevin, Barb, Karen, Troy, Mark, Nikole, Wally, and Martine!
You make WUMC’s youth ministries possible.

Thanks so much for reading. Let me know what you think of all this in the comments.

Worship services over, the display of Stop & Think questions – some leader-generated, some youth-created – now adorn the Narthex (fancy churchy word for lobby):


I can tell the kids are tired at this point (me too!), but they were even better at the Conversation at the second worship service.


Our first worship service started a little late, largely due to Pastor Danita waiting for me to finish trying to fix the presentation computer. Note: when I’m the IT guy, things are bad.

But our youth did a great job leading the Conversation with the Children, telling a little about what we did and a little about what they thought and felt about it.



My one, indisputable take away is that this SOS completely confirms and illuminates what my friend, Hugh Hollowell, taught us when we visited Love Wins Ministries this summer:

The opposite of homeless isn’t housed, it’s community.

Breakfasting and reflecting on the experience. We’ll use these reflections to guide us as a few of the youth lead the Conversation with the Children in worship this morning.

One awesome leader brought coffee. Yet another awesome leader brought us breakfast, including bacon!


One leader reports it is 29 degrees. For sure it was cold enough to freeze the water bottle left out:


Breaking down tent city:



Good morning, everybodyyyyy!


Woke up to find most of the kids still sleeping. This is unexpected. Previous years everyone was up by 6:00. Maybe it was warmer this year? Or our groups was better prepared?

Somehow I lost an update. Need to add that a couple adults arrived at (the second) 2:00am to take a turn as tent city guard. We have the best leaders ever!

I bailed. I’m ashamed to admit it but, I woke up, couldn’t move in my box and, well, pretty much freaked out. I’ve never felt claustrophobic before, but I have to think that’s what it feels like.

Spent a few minutes talking with the leaders taking a turn watching over our tent city, then went inside to sleep. So I failed SOS. Great.

2:00am (for the second time) and the second shift of leaders have arrived. We are very blessed to have such dedicated adults!

Bed time for me.

2:00am…except now it’s 1:00am again. Ugh. Remember when that extra hour of sleep was a godsend? Tonight? Not so much.

Of course recognizing the privilege oozing out of that lament…is kinda one of the main points of this event.

Climbing into our boxes and tents to sleep. We hope.


Construction complete:


Assembling shelters, hoping to avoid the skunk that was just spotted on the church lawn…right next to where the shelters are planned to go.





Activity 2 commences: each participant received a persona with which they had to try to gain housing by visiting various agencies: apartment complexes, women’s shelter, public housing, section 8, rescue mission, or a realty company.

We leaders served as staff for the agencies. We were instructed to make it as difficult for them as we could. No one got housed the first day.

All signed in, thereby “agreeing to abide by the center’s rules,” and the simulation begins.

First, in families of 3, a sheriff is at their door, they are being evicted, and they have 5 minutes to decide what they will take with them, but it must fit in a backpack.

Most of the groups chose to bring their passport, prompting one leader to wonder, “They know they’re being evicted and not going on a trip to Aruba, right?”

Found our last straggler (a leader no less 🙂 ), so all on the bus heading back to church to reflect, enter the simulation, build our shelters, and, eventually, sleep.

And there’s tonight’s surprise: the indefatigable SOS director, Jennie Gates, is retiring. I’ll miss working with her on this event. She’s always very organized, making it much easier for me to be as well.

“Finding Bridge was such a relief for our families.” Shout out to case workers and all who help families like these connect with the resources they need. Those women and men have to be the unsung heroes of this story.
Looking forward to hearing the group react to the stories told.

Important, honest talk from two families helped by Bridge. One family became homeless due to the mom taking her kids, leaving an abusive relationship.

The obligatory shout out to all the sponsors and each town represented. Being Woodridge means we’re last on the list. But we can be loud when we try.

Stephan Stefan Holt on stage to, er, rally the crowd.


This is the 11th year for SOS, raising $1 Million in that time.
“It’s going to be pretty cold tonight.” Thanks for that reminder, Stephan Stefan.

Two of our boys won the head or tails game. (Put your hand on your head or your tail and if the DJ calls out where your hands are, you move on). A very helpful prize: handwarmers!


One question answered:


Our final participants arrive and we’re on the bus heading to Glen Ellyn for the rally. 11 youth & 5 adults. Plus a couple more adults staying behind to set up the shelter simulation which begins as soon as we return from the rally.

The mood on the bus is noticeably split: the youth are all chatting, laughing, animated. While the adults are quiet, pensive even. Or maybe it’s contemplative. Yeah, that’s probably it… 😉

The rally has music, a family or two who have been helped by Bridge Communities will speak, and Stephan Stefan (apologies) Holt from the local NBC affiliate will emcee. Two years ago, a few of our group knew one of the teens who spoke. That, as they say, brought the issue home really quickly. What surprises await us this time?

Will there be t-shirts left for the kids at the rally? Last year they were out by the time we got there.

We’ll know soon…

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