Monday, April 11, 2011

Lack of sleep coupled with physical exertion breaks down the defenses

This Spring we have been privileged to participate in Stoked Mentoring’s snowboarding trips. These wonderful experiences got us reminiscing about our first ever trip to the snow with YMC youth. It was a weekend affair with seven teenage boys and the same number of girls. When we arrived we discovered that (contrary to our requests) our accommodations had them staying in two rooms of the same cabin, separated by only a living room in between. Guess where staff decided to sleep at night?

This was the first time to the snow for almost every one of our 14 young people. So, you can imagine that they were a little keyed up. I remember going into the boys’ room three times to settle them down to get some sleep. Finally, on the fourth trip to their shared room at about 2am I decided to try a different tactic. I walked into the room without saying a word, shut off the light and sat silently on the floor in the middle of the room flanked by 4 sets of bunk beds hosting 7 young men. The boys became immediately silent. After a few moments some anxious giggling showed up, followed by “shhhh, Tony’s right here.” An attempt at a whispered joke, which engendered a whispered command “hey, respect!”

After awhile they were all settled down. Even though few were yet asleep, my boy Jose Luis decided that my little mission had been accomplished and says “you can go now Tony”.

The following day was glorious. Spring conditions. Fresh snow had fallen at night while we were engaged in our cabin capers. Sun shining down on excited youngsters who show no signs of operating on only 3 hours of sleep. They learn well and have fun.

That evening’s fireside conversation would be deep and evocative. Lack of sleep coupled with physical exertion breaks down the defenses, rendering our young people more open to sharing things they otherwise might hold back. Wounds are shared and cared for. Flashes of insight share the space with expressions of support and vows to change. After the meeting weary adults slip off to get some much needed shut eye, while stalwart youth hang out by the fire, not wanting to give up the collegiality found in this special evening.

This time when they finally get to their room sleep comes quickly.

In peace,

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