Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Middle School Camp Day 1: Some Thoughs

As I wind down from day 1 of NMC Student Ministries Middle School Camp 2014, here are some of the random thoughts running through my head...
  • As I stood on the stage and looked out at 170+ Middle School students and our 50 leaders and staff, a thought crossed my mind... if they really wanted to, these students could take us.  The problem wasn't so much the thought as the fact that I actually shared it with the campers.  I'm praying they aren't secretly strategizing in their cabins as their leaders sleep.
  • I'm consistently blown away by the adult volunteers willing to give of their time (many use their work vacation time) to come and dive in as Cottage Group leaders.
  • The power of "group think" among Middle Schoolers is amazing.  When harnessed for good it can be fun.  When harnessed toward God it can be potent.
  • Speaking of potent, today is the best smelling day of Middle School Camp.
  • Chris Lehane and Colin Urbanick are two amazing Middle School Pastors.  Most churches would love to have just one of them investing in their students.  I get to work alongside both of them.
  • One of my favorite things to observe are former NMC students who have benefited from Summer Camps return as leaders to invest in Summer Camps.  There are a TON of such leaders at this camp.  That's 2 Timothy 2:2 in action!
  • My wife is simply amazing.  She is the unsung hero on so many levels of things tied to Summer Camp.
  • This is my 16th consecutive year with a Summer visit to Beulah Beach with and NMC group.  Every year God has met with us in special and unique ways.
  • As I stood on stage and looked out at 170+ Middle School students and our 50 leaders and staff, another thought crossed my mind... Wow, God. There is a ton of potential here.  

Monday, June 09, 2014

YS Idea Lab - Taking Camps to the Next Level

My friend Seth Bartlette set me up with a chance to share at last Fall's National Youth Workers Convention on how to take Camps to the next level.  Saddleback's Youth Pastor Josh Griffin interviewed me as a gave 4 practical thoughts on becoming more intentional with how youth groups take advantage of Camps and Retreats.  YS just posted it onto their site as many Youth Groups are heading into the Camping season. I'm praying the ideas shared will help ministries in their efforts to create moments that will transfer into movements and life change at their Camps and Retreats this Summer.  Check out the video here:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Disney Photo Contest - THE Video

Here's the final product of the promised video if we won:

Disney Photo Contest - The Videos

Here's the videos of the kids that we posted along the way.  They had so much fun recording them!

Disney Photo Contest - The Memes

In the last weekend of the contest, I was getting really sick of just posting a link and pleading for votes, so I got a little creative by creating some memes asking people to vote.







And the closing meme the day after we won:


Disney Photo Contest - The Reasons to Vote

Here's a Recap of the posts I did giving reasons to vote:

REASON #1 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - DISNEY WORLD HAS EXTRA-SPECIAL MEANING TO THE PRENKERTS.
- Janelle and I were hooked on the Mouse before we had kids. In fact, in the seven years of infertility battles, DIsney World become a place of escape for us (we just got to be kids and not worry about leading other kids from the youth group), but also a place of hope as we would dream about the day we would bring our kids with us and build memories together. At times, we definitely wondered if that day would ever come.
- KATYLYNN'S first trip to "Minnie's Castle," as she calls it, was at 13 months. Of course she doesn't remember the first time, but we sure do. I vividly remember her meeting Minnie Mouse right by the Sorcerer's Hat in Hollywood Studios. In her trips since, Katylynn has become somewhat of a tour guide for her little siblings.
- Katylynn insisted that we had to take MOSES to Minnie's Castle to celebrate his homecoming from Uganda. It kind of became a regular topic of conversation through the two-year process of bringing him home. 4 months after he joined his forever family, Moses made the trip...and he LOVED it (everything except the characters, that is.. he finally warmed up to them this last trip).
- KEIRALEE'S first trip to Disney was actually the same as Moses' first trip. We just didn't know about her at the time of departure. It was actually at Disney the day after Thanksgiving that things were just off with Janelle. She was loopy, she couldn't keep up with me, and she was craving pickles... WHAA? The pregnancy test that next day confirmed what we had resigned to think would not be a manner in which a child would enter our life... she was pregnant.
 


REASON #2 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - GOOD TIME STEWARDSHIP  
You've been playing Candy Crush and need something to do while you wait for your lives to refill. Rather than creeping on your kids, kids friends, that boy/girl you're crushing on, make a better use of your time by heading over  and voting for/liking our picture. If we win, we get a free trip to Disney! You can vote every day till April 14. Vote away and spread the word!

REASON #3 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - IF YOU DON'T MOSES WILL BEAT YOU UP. (w/ pictoral proof)
Really, you don't want to make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry!
 



REASON #4 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - JANELLE WANTS TO SEE FLOWER AND GARDEN. Her thoughts: It's been a dream of mine to go to Disney's Flower and Garden Festival. Maybe we can win a trip there?



REASON #5 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - MEMORIES.
You have those places that your family has built memories around, right? It may be a spot in your home (kitchen table, firepit, swimming pool), or it may be a location. As we've been aggressively spreading the word on this photo contest we've entered to win a trip to Disney, I've been flooded with special moments Janelle and I have shared together, as well as unique moments with our kids. They've included meaningful conversations, laughter, awe, and most definitely a fair share of meltdowns. In the end, to win a free trip is a chance to build on those memories.
 


REASON #6 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT.
You look at the link and you don't vote. You continue to scroll down your news feed. You see a link of a giant snake about to eat a man. You click on that link instead. Instead of taking you to the link your account gets hacked. As your account gets jacked all your friends defriend you. You lose your job. Your bank account gets drained. The zombie apocalypse ensues.... JUST GO VOTE FOR THE PHOTO!
 


REASON #7 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - IF WE ACTUALLY WIN A TRIP TO DISNEY, I WILL RECORD A VIDEO OF MYSELF DANCING DOWN THE STREETS OF NAPPANEE SINGING "LET IT GO" AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS FROM FROZEN AND POST IT ON YOUTUBE.
I promise, I will do my best to make it a humiliating video that I wish had never made it on to Social Media. If it's a landslide victory, I will do it in a princess costume!
Yes, I just went there. Yes, I'm that serious about this. 


REASON #8 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - KATYLYNN STATES HER CASE.
Watch the video and check the comment section for instructions & links.

REASON #9 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - A VOTE EVERY DAY SENDS THE PRENKERTS TO DIS-NAY (or Disney).
Go on over and vote this morning so you don't forget. It's the daily votes (you can vote once every day until April 14) that will win this for us.



REASON #10 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - GET US TO FIVE HUNDY BY THE END OF SUNDAY!
We are in the running for a free trip to Disney if our photo gets the most votes/likes. You can like once and vote daily. We are currently 32 LIKES shy of 500 which would put us (as far as I can tell) 100 ahead of the next closest.  (at least I thought at the time we posted this)



REASON #11 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - MOSES STATES HIS CASE.
Enjoy a 4 year old's logic of why you should vote on our photo every day till April 14 (and like it the first time you vote). We jumped in late on the competition so we need a TON of likes/votes to ensure we can win.
*by the way, Moses was really pumped to record this and share with everyone after he saw his big sis shoot a video last night. I was blown away at how much this kid has transformed from the malnourished, scared, timid little boy I met nearly 3 years ago to this awesome little guy I get to call my son!
 

>REASON #12 TO VOTE ON OUR PIC - TAKE A SPRING BREAK BREAK.
You've been chillin' on the beach and at the pool, taking selfie's or that ever-important shot of your bare feet overlooking the beach. Why not take a 20 second vacation from your vacation to help us win a vacation? 


REASON #13 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - YOU WANT TO HEAR A SICK GOAT-HORSE SING, RIGHT?
So, I made a commitment. If you all help me win a free trip to Disney World from this photo I entered, I will record a video of myself dancing down the streets of Nappanee singing "Let It Go" at the top of my lungs then post it on YouTube. Here's why this is a big deal... Yes I was in NorthWood's Dawining Generation, but I'm pretty sure they were looking for male students with a pulse in the early 90s. Just the other day when singing "Let it Go" in the car with the kids, Katylynn said, "Daddy, you sound like a goat." Moses chimed in, "No you sound like a sick horse." It's just that bad.
 



REASON #14 TO VOTE ON OUR PIC - I JUST HEARD 40,000+ TOTAL VOTES HAVE BEEN CAST IN THE CONTEST!
That's a ton of votes! But, as I look at the large amount of photos that have been entered and the high amounts of likes on several (basically doing a bunch of math in my head) I gotta believe we are seriously in the running. BUT, we need those of you who have voted other days to remember to vote every day! REVOTES ARE HUGE. So, do vote if you haven't yet today.


REASON #15 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - LOOK AT WHAT WE COULD HAVE ENTERED (PART 1).
See, we entered a really cute picture from our family that can win us a FREE TRIP TO DISNEY with the most votes  There's some others that may not have been so impressive... I call these the "Moses isn't so excited about Characters the first time around" pictures. He has since warmed up, but oh man, did he freak out the first time!


REASON #16 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - KIKI STATES HER CASE... WELL, KINDA.
Kiki loves all thing Minnie and Disney. Getting her to talk about it on camera is a little trickier. Your help in voting for our photo we've entered in a contest for a FREE TRIP TO DISNEY is huge.


REASON #17 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - LOOK AT WHAT WE COULD HAVE ENTERED (PART 2). It's a cool story (and Janelle Prenkert said it's okay to post) but the photo alone doesn't tell it.
It was just 2 days after we found out Janelle was pregnant with Keiralee (we found out while on vacation to Disney, how cool is that?) We were walking down Main Street to Magic Kingdom right at Park Opening. The music was pumping. The characters were in full swing. The smells were piping out of Main Street Bakery. I look over at my lovely bride, and notice something. "ARE YOU CRYING?" I say. She looks up, tears in her eyes, and says, "It's all just so magical!"
And that, my friends, was her first "pregnant hormonal Mama" moment she was ever able to experience (12 years in waiting)... right there on Main Street of the Magic Kingdom.
So, I had to take a picture... Not the most flattering picture, but an awesome story.






REASON #18 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - LOOK AT WHAT WE COULD HAVE ENTERED (PART 3).
I think if I'd entered this one, Disney would have posted it at their park gates saying, "Don't let this man enter our parks. Ever." 



REASON #19 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - LOOK AT WHAT WE COULD HAVE ENTERED (PART 4).
The many times the photo didn't work... To get the right pic, there definitely is a fair share of "wrong pics"...







REASON #20 TO VOTE ON OUR PIC - JUST 10 SECONDS A DAY GOES A LONG WAY!
Okay Spring Breakers. You're coming in for the night and scrolling through your news feed to see what you missed while spending the day at the pool/on the beach.
College students, you're looking for something to kill some time before you study.
Everyone else, the days ending, and you're reading this.



REASON #21 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - A GREAT "GOTCHA DAY" GIFT FOR KATYLYNN.
Today is a special day for Janelle and I. 6 years ago today, the judge looked at us and said, "Katylynn Ivy Prenkert will legally be forever your child and you will forever be her parents." The nearly 8 year journey to that point was 7 years of questions, doubt and pain surrounding the battles of infertility, followed by 8 months of miraculous adoptive joy. Disney World has always been a special part of that journey...
In the early years it was where Janelle and I would go to get away from the craziness of youth ministry and just be kids. At the same time, as we walked throught the parks wondering if the day would ever come where we would bring our family. That first trip in December 2008 with Katylynn and the many to follow are filled with vivid memories with my little girl (who is growing up far too fast).
 
 





 REASON #22 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - A PREVIEW OF THINGS TO COME IF WE WIN.
We entered a photo in a contest to win a FREE TRIP TO DISNEY, and if we win, I''ve committed to dance down the streets of Nappanee singing "Let It Go" at the top of my lungs and post it to YouTube. If getting my kids to Disney isn't motivation enough, I would think me making a fool of myself could take you over the top.






REASON #23 TO VOTE (AND KEEP VOTING) FOR OUR PIC - IT'S A MAD BLIND DASH TO THE END.
Well, since our photo has reached 1000 likes there's no way of really tracking how many new voters we are getting. There is one other photo in the running that just surpassed 1000 likes (several hours after we did, good sign) and so now it's even more of an unknown who will be leading. In the end, it's VOTES that count. 





REASON #24 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE IS FUN ON TV, BUT IT SUPER FUN LIVE ON STAGE.
The girls (Katylynn & Kiki) are enjoying the show today while hanging out in Mommy and daddy's bedroom. 3 days (but less than 72 hours) left in the competition.






REASON #25 TO VOTE FOR OUR PIC - A REMINDER TO DO IT FOR THE KIDS!
We are nearing 48 hours left in the contest we entered a photo to win a free trip to Disney World. For those of you who jumped in later on this or missed the previous post, here's a little reminder of our story and how it all ties to Disney:
As one of my friends aptly said, they are the story of of domestic adoption, international adoption, and then a biological "bonus" after presumed infertility. Disney World has played a significant role in all three of their miracle stories.
My wife and I dreamed of taking our kids to Disney for the first 7 years of marriage, and when we adopted our oldest, that first trip was magical.
When we brought our son home from Uganda, Disney was the perfect way to celebrate the 2 year process to bring him into our family.
While at Disney celebrating the homecoming of our son, we discovered my wife was pregnant with the third.
The pic we entered is from our most recent trip as a family of 5 (so crazy... 3 KIDS!)
Disney has so much meaning to us as a family and we'd love to get back. It is a place we love to go to as a family for the fun, but it also become a bit of a milestone marker for us and a place where we are reminded of God's amazing faithfulness.
 


 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Disney Photo Contest Memories (Series of Posts to Follow)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I entered a photo in a contest to win a trip to Walt Disney World (most votes wins).  At first I thought I'd throw it on my timeline and see if we could get a few people to vote on it.  After a week, it became clear to me we had a chance to actually win, so I kicked it into overdrive.
  • I became excessive in my Tweets and Status Updates in an effort to pick up new voters and remind people to vote daily.  It was RIDICULOUS.  I mean, I was annoying myself with the posts.  I could only imagine how annoyed those who had no interest in the contest were getting.
  • I started regularly posting "REASONS" to vote for our photo.  These ranged from the humorous, to the strategic, to the sentimental.
  • I recorded several videos of the kids asking for votes.
  • I started making memes featuring various Disney and pop culture references.
  • Others significantly joined in the efforts by sharing and resharing to their Facebook timelines in an effort to gain more voters.
  • In an act of desperation one night as it became clear to me we had a chance, I made a commitment to dance down the streets of Nappanee singing "Let it Go" at the top of my lungs and post the video to YouTube.  If we won in a landslide, I committed to dress up in a princess costume.
Here's the crazy thing.  We actually won!  And we won by a lot!
Because of the way the Facebook Timeline works, it's tricky to find all the stuff I posted after time passes, so I'm going to take the next several posts to recount some of the posts, memes and videos we posted just for the sake of having a good (for he most part) memory to share with my kids and others. 

*Big thanks to the DIS Unplugged (www.disunplugged.com) for holding the contest and to Dreams Unlimited Travel (www.dreamsunlimitedtravel.com) for the prize.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Disney Photo Contest

So we entered this photo into a Disney Photo Contest about 11 days ago.  I was kind of thinking it was worth a shot, but suddenly, it is looking like we have a legit shot to be in the running for a 7 Day/6 Night stay (hotel, tickets and dining)!

If, for some reason, you are reading this and haven't heard about it on Facebook, you can go to this link to vote for our picture:    http://woobox.com/sbotso/vote/for/2244419

You have to have a Facebook account to vote.  You have to like the page that is hosting the contest (completely safe, no risks).  You can vote once every day till April 14.  We need as many votes as possible, so go vote and then spread the word!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Compassion Into Action

UPDATE:  Katylynn was blown away this morning as we shared with her that she has been able to raise $320+ (some have given directly to her rather than online) for St. Jude's.  She spent time yesterday cleaning up our basement and even got her little brother to join in as he agreed it would be great to help kids who aren't feeling well.  THANK YOU to those who have jumped in!
_________________________________________________

I'm not a huge fan of fundraisers.  However, I AM a huge fan of causes worth supporting and people giving toward that cause.

Last Tuesday night, on the way home from a meeting at the church, Katylynn informed me that she had something "very serious" she wanted to talk to me about.  She had already had a similar conversation with Janelle.  She explained to me... well, why don't you watch the video to see what she explained to me:

As I heard my little Kindergartner explain this on the drive home, it was clear that her heart hurt over the fact that there were sick kids who need help.  It was also clear that she wanted to do her part to help.

The concept is simple.  Katylynn will be working on a Math workbook.  Your gift(s) to St. Jude's are in honor of her efforts.  It is a lump donation.

A few things to pass on.
  1. The next morning after we talked about her desire to help, she brought down her wallet where she keeps her loose change.  She counted out her $2.32 and decided that she would like to give the 32 cents to help St. Jude's.
  2. She asked me if she could do work around the house to get some money to give to St. Jude's.  As she does the math she will also be cleaning up in our basement and helping with dishes and other chores where she will be earning money to give.
  3. I asked her if she'd like to record this video to see if others will help her.  She was obviously very willing.
  4. There are prizes to those who raise funds.  Only once in our many conversations about this has Katylynn mentioned the prizes.
  5. Although not mentioned in the video, this has been a great teachable moment on the heart of Christ to help those in need, and she grasps that as she helps here, she is helping Jesus as she helps those who are sick.
In the end, I'm excited to see a daughter who was moved with compassion and is willing to put that compassion into action!

If you would like to partner with Katylynn, go to http://mathathon.stjude.org/katylynn and donate.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

3 and 3: Smart Phones

3 Things I love about my iPhone
  1. All in One:  Voice, Text, Email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, quality digital camera, music.  I can get away with one device.
  2. Synchronization:  For an incredibly disorganized guy,  being able to synch up my calendar, contacts, and mail to and from my phone is a huge help.
  3. Kid Entertainment:  Although we are extremely cautious on how much and how often we let them use it, when we find ourselves in a constrictive situation where our kids are waiting on us (meaning they can't run around, laugh, scream, loot the place, etc.) there are several games and apps that will keep them engaged.
3 Things I do not love about my iPhone
  1. Always "on":  The general expectation is that I should be immediately available. 
  2. Cost: Is it really a wise expense?
  3. Too Many Phones too Young:  This isn't so much about my iPhone, but I would say giving a Middle School Student a cell phone is risky.  Giving him/her a smart phone is downright stupid.