Category: Monkey Barrel

This morning at 8:05AM almost a dozen students gathered around the flagpole at Essex District High School. As I write this post students at Gosfield North Central Public School are gathering at their school. Why, you may be wondering? Because today is our annual See You At The Pole (SYATP) event. Still confused? Let me explain.

It all started with a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas who came together for a DiscipleNow weekend in 1990. These students wanted to spend time together praying to God and growing spiritually together. Throughout this experience they felt a real great burden to pray for their schools; they drive to three different schools that night, gathered around the flagpole, and prayed. It was as simple as that

The vision for this grew however; the students wanted to coordinate an effort where students all over Texas would be praying simultaneously for their schools. This movement quickly adopted the name See You At The Pole (every school has a flag pole) and the idea was shared with 20,000 students in June of 1990 at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. That year, on September 12, 45,000 students gathered at the flagpoles of their school in four different states to pray before the start of school.

On September 11, 1991, the number quickly grew to 1,000,000 students praying at the flagpoles of their school from Boston all the way to Los Angeles. Today there is over 3,000,000 students praying in the United States as well as a vast number of students from over 20 countries around the world.

One act of faithfulness in 1990 has sparked a worldwide student prayer movement. And we have been a part of this for two years running at Essex District High School. Though we are only a very small part of this large movement, faithfulness in prayer pays off more than we can possibly imagine.

2 Chronicles 7:14  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

James 5:16  “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

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After a long break from blogging things are back up and running! This week at Emergency Ministries and Monkey Barrel we hung out together and talked about what it is like to go through changes and transitions in life. I shared about my experience working at McDonalds while I was in High School; the only thing constant about that job was that there was constant change! The crew changed, the menu changed, the prices changed (and went up!) and the contests changed. (BTW, I cannot wait until the monopoly contest comes back this fall!)

All of the students are now going through a period of change. Teachers change, schools change, friends change, courses change, grades change, after school hang outs change…and change can be lonely, stressful & sad.

One of the great things about faith in God Almighty is that the bible records stories of His interaction with humanity in almost every situation that we can imagine. The prophet Isaiah speaks to the Israelite people around the time of their defeat and exile at the hands of the Babylonians. The Babylonians were a nation that came and destroyed the homes and cities of the Israelites and then carried all the people off to their land to work for them; talk about a changing season in their life! Nevertheless, this is what God says to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah:

 “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
(Isaiah 43:1-3)


The moral of the story is this: God does not come to pass. Instead, God comes to stay. Israel was going to get through and indeed thrive in their new season of life not because they were amazing in and of themselves but because they were going to place their faith in God once again.

I urge you, both Monkey Barrel and Emergency Ministries students, to place your faith in God this semester and see how his blessings and provision make the changing seasons of life much more bearable.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”      (John 16:33)

The final day of Monkey Barrel Camp brought forth many sleepy heads. TH woke me up at 8AM as I had asked him to do the night before. When I emerged from the leader’s dorm I thought that Taylor had perhaps played a joke on me; it could not possibly be 8AM when there were only a handful of other students that were out of bed. Then I realized what had happened… Continue reading

The afternoon at Monkey Barrel Summer Camp on Tuesday was a hot one…but we all kept cool on the giant waterslide. In addition to that we had several crazy Tug ‘o Four matches. What is a Tug ‘o Four you ask? Well, it is basically four inner tubes connected by bungee chords. Four kids get in the tubes and then run in opposite directions…guess what happens next! Continue reading

This morning at Monkey Barrel Camp we all woke up to very mild temperatures! I say woke up…I guess that only applies to those who actually went to sleep last night. Lets just say there were many who watched the sunrise I am sure!

After breakfast and getting ready for the day we took a second look into the story of Joseph. This morning I took the kids on a field trip…. Continue reading

By now most students from Monkey Barrel Summer Camp have all recovered from their sleepless nights and days filled with activity. Likely they have told many stories about what happened during camp; some will be true and others will probably be exaggerated. In this four part series I will give you all the ‘official’ details about camp. It is not possible to cover all events that took place but I will give you the highlights.

So…here we go!

Monkey Barrel Summer Camp opened with a splash….of sweat! The first afternoon and evening were extremely humid with air temperatures (before humidex) hovering in the low 30s (90s for those of you who use Fahrenheit). We spent some time together on the bouncing castle, which served to cool us all down a little bit! I think we all suffered a few scrapes and bruises from slipping and sliding (especially Jeff Tomlin who could not seem to stand on his two feet).

In the evening we were worshiped with music provided by Pastor Mitch and then I shared the first talk of the camp: What is a perfect family? Through studying the life of Joseph we learned that there are actually no perfect families; every family has it quirks. Joseph’s family had the unfortunate issues of sibling rivalry, parental favoritism, and a tattling little brother (that would be Joseph). However, every family also has its blessings! Students were encouraged on two different points: (1) To consider the blessings and great things about their families as opposed to focusing on the shortcomings, and (2) To consider how they can control their reactions and attitudes so that they can live peacefully with their families as far as it depends on them.

We ended the night with prayer, a campfire and a showing of the movie Earnest Goes to Camp. The students were all tucked into their beds by 11PM…although most did not fall to sleep until much, much later. Aside from a power outage around 1AM that caused the fire alarm to chirp incessantly, there were no major incidents! Thanks to the night security staff I was able to sleep soundly from 1AM until 8AM!

Check back this evening for part 2!

Monkey Barrel Summer Camp is now in full swing…and if you are reading this scheduled post it is because I have not yet located an internet connection in order to give you a full evaluation of how things are going.

Could you please pray that we will make it through the day and through the heat? Can you pray that as we continue to worship and share God’s word with the students that their hearts would be open? Can you pray that seeds are planted that bring the students closer in relationship to God and back to our Monkey Barrel program in the fall.

Stay tuned for a full update on our return later this week!

Calling all Jr. High students in Essex: MONKEY BARREL SUMMER CAMP starts on Monday!!!

This year we have a great line up of events planned for Monkey Barrel Summer Camp. Yours truly is the ‘guest’ speaker, Pastor Mitch Horner from Belle River is the ‘guest’ worship leader, a number of Monkey Barrel volunteers will be present to assist with activities and a great time will be had by all who are present!

Pre-registration is a must and so if you have not yet taken care of this please contact me ASAP! Even if you cannot get your form and money in until the day camp starts, I still need a heads up that you are coming so that we can plan for you.

There will be two teams at camp this year competing against each other for some great prizes…and a few AMAZING prizes! Stay tuned for some strange competitions this year…competitions like we have never had before at Monkey Barrel Camp!

For parents, I will attempt to provide some blog updates however being that we are at a remote camp without Internet access that may be tricky. Nevertheless, stay tuned!

Good morning folks. Last night at Emergency Ministries & Monkey Barrel we had a great time hanging out together and participating in a Scavenger Hunt! Congrats to the girl’s team who correctly answered all the riddles and located all of the secret stash. I must admit that I am amazed how quickly some of the teams were finished; I thought that if I made it any more difficult we would not be able to finish it in time.

For example, how did you get this one so fast: Start at the old initiation tree from last year. Walk the path towards the most danger until you come to the edge. Turn right. Walk until you see something that reminds you of the city of lost wages. Look up, look waaayyy up until you find a rainbow that is sweet as sugar. Take ONLY ONE and use this item to bribe one of the Clubhouse leaders to let one of your teammates slide down the gigantic water slide.

I thought for sure that would stump a few…

Nevertheless, a great time was had by all. Which brings me to my last point…someone left behind their pink skirt from the Children’s Place. I am sure that there is a perfectly acceptable reason why someone left youth without the skirt that they brought with them last night…and I would love for them to share how it happened… Did you happen to go on the water slide and then…end up wearing your bathing suit home? How does that happen?

In any case, you can reclaim your skirt in the lost and found…right next to the suitcase full of clothes that was left at the Fall Retreat last November that has never been reclaimed. Really, how does THAT happen!

Good morning readers! I have a bunch of things on my mind today and so I thought that I would let them all out for you to see and hear about. Here we go!

1. If you were in Monkey Barrel this past week we talked about VAMPIRES! No, we are not setting the Bible aside and now preaching from popular media. What we are doing is taking popular media and demonstrating how lines up or does not line up with a Biblical worldview.

Now that you are done having a heart attack about us talking of Vampires in Monkey Barrel, let me tell you what we talked about. First, we discussed the various occult-like beliefs and behaviors associated with the whole world of vampires and its somewhat close association with Wicca. These are things that our Biblical worldview tells us are very real and certainly not good, pure and noble pursuits. Secondly, we saw that there are a variety of other practices associated with Vampires that are perhaps not spiritually-related but nevertheless contradictory to our Biblical worldview. Finally, we noted that those who engage in a lifestyle of fantasy and use that as a mask to avoid the pain of real life here and now are not doing themselves any good whatsoever. We need to pursue life with Jesus Christ, not fantasy.

A full discussion about this will be posted next week once I present this material to the Emergency Ministries group.

2. The second thing on my mind today is the Royal Wedding! Not the dress, not the hats, not the people, not the ring, not the weather, not the kiss, not anything like that…..come on now, what about the Royal Wedding do you think I would deem worthy for including in this blog post? ……..the sermon by the Bishop of London! I encourage you to review a few excerpts from the wedding sermon delivered earlier this morning at Westminster Abby as I was quite impressed with the truth about love and marriage presented to millions of viewers today. You can see some excerpts at

3. The third and final thing on my mind this morning is a new blog series that I have been thinking about and will begin to write shortly. I want to put the idea out there now to increase your expectation and whet your appetite. I plan to write a series entitled “The Top 10 Threats to a Teenager’s Faith”. In this series I will draw from my experience of 10 years working with teenagers to highlight some common pitfalls I have seen over and over again with the anticipation that perhaps it may assist some teenagers and parents from repeating the mistakes that others before them have already made.

That’s all for this morning!

p.s. I have noticed that my Katy Perry post from well over a month ago is STILL getting many hits every day and is currently my most popular post. Perhaps you’d like me to review more artists in the near future?