NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – After two freebie-free Mennonite Youth Conventions in a row, Bethel College staff decided on a creative variation of previous Bethel booths.
Bethel offered giveaways this year – but the youth had to earn them.
“For the [San Jose and Columbus] conventions, we gave away nothing except money to go to service agencies” that youth groups who had winning tickets drawn got to choose, said Dale Schrag, Bethel’s director of church relations and interim campus pastor. “This year, we decided to give away T-shirts and ‘thinking putty’ as well as money to youth groups for service projects.
“But we didn't just want to hand it out,” Schrag continued. “We wanted to require something of the recipients. We debated asking them to trade in another T-shirt for one of ours, and then we'd give the shirts to MCC, but MCC didn't [need] them. So we decided to ask them to learn something in order to get the prizes.
“Since I’m on the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee, I knew there would be displays of significant events in the history of racial/ethnic Mennonites. We created a different scavenger hunt for each day, based on the history display, to be completed in order to qualify for the prize of the day.”
The youth picked up cards at Bethel’s booth, filled them out and handed them in – to get a T-shirt on Monday and Tuesday and a tin of thinking putty on Wednesday. For Thursday and Friday, youth put the completed cards into a tumbler from which four cards were drawn just before the display area closed Friday afternoon.
The four winners – Daniel Martin of Weavers Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, Va., Karli Mast of Zion Mennonite Church, Hubbard, Ore., Mark Nabers of First Mennonite Church, Morton, Ill., and Teagan Powers of Pinto Mennonite Church, Cumberland, Md. – each will receive $500 to go to the charity of their youth group’s choice.
When they weren’t busy searching for answers to history questions, many of the youth spent time lounging on the Bethel booth’s beanbags. They could watch Bubbert Award-winning short films by Bethel students, play table games (Catch Phrase and Jenga were the most popular) and look at photos of students obviously having a great time getting very dirty during the annual Mudslam Volleyball Tournament and playing Quidditch on the Green with Swiffers.
“In my opinion, it was a success,” said Lori Livengood, Bethel vice president for marketing and communications. “We had several entire youth groups – including the one from Weavers – who completed the questions to enter into the drawing. We had many who came by asking how they could get thinking putty. Since we ran out of T-shirts early on, there were a few who were disappointed they weren't able to earn a T-shirt. We even had a few youth who wanted to keep their cards early in the week so they could quiz their sponsors later.”