First Dance

First Dance

My first dance was in the fifth grade, but I made sure not to dance with anyone. Me and another guy came up with a strategy to avoid dancing on the girls-choice dances, since we never would have asked anyone ourselves! It quickly became clear that wall-flowers usually ended up dancing with someone at some point, so as soon as the music started, we would walk around the middle of the dance floor as if headed somewhere.


Sometimes I’d dance in place for a moment if a teacher was near. Teachers were good at setting people up to get them to dance with someone. When the snowball dance started, we made sure to go get a drink and use the bathroom, taking a considerable amount of time getting back. Using these methods, I was able to make it through the dance without ever having to dance with a girl.

When I turned twelve, one of my first church youth activities was a youth dance. Using my sneaky method, I was able to avoid dancing with a girl for a while – until Sister Johnson, one of the young-women leaders caught on to what I was doing. While strolling about in the middle of the dance floor, weaving in and out of dancing couples, I suddenly walked right into Sister Johnson (obviously she had aligned her position). With a big smile, she said, “Chas, have you danced with anyone yet?”

I knew I was doomed, and gave in, saying, “Uh… no… not really.”

Then she grabbed the first laurel to walk by and said, “Dawn, would you like to dance with Chas?”

Of course, being a mature 16 year-old, she took pity on this poor little deacon. “I’d love to!”

Feeling like a mouse caught in a trap, I stood there as she put her hands on my shoulders. I was shocked. What was I supposed to do now? I stood there stupidly.

“Put your hands on my waist,” she instructed. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was supposed to actually dance with this girl! I’d seen the others dancing, so I guess I knew I was supposed to put my hands on her waist, but I couldn’t work up the courage to do it before the invitation came. I put my hands on her waist and we rocked back and forth slightly, turning gradually in circles. The song was already half over by the time we started dancing, but that second half of a song felt like the length of twenty songs.

When the song finally ended, she thanked me for the dance and I bolted. For the rest of the evening, I kept clear of that girl.

At home after the dance, mom told me how Dawn had come up to her and Dad after our dance and said, “Your son is so cute! I had to tell him to put his hands on my hips!”

Turning purple at the thought that Mom and Dad knew that I had danced with a girl, I wormed off to my room. Maybe next time I would slough the dance entirely.

Get in the Game!

get-in-the-game

The rise of professional sports has led many to the misconception that the best way to get exercise while having fun is to play an organized sport. But there are literally hundreds of outdoor games that are so active and exciting that players don’t realize what an incredible workout they are getting. And don’t assume that these games are only for kids – they can be much more fun for teens and adults.

Many have heard of dodge-ball, where players try to pummel each other with a firm Nerf ball (or a rolled up pair of socks) across two sides of a yard, but there are many variations of this game that can make for many hours of activity. For example, play freeze-tag, where one person is it, and tries to touch the other players. Instead of having to touch them, however, have the person who is “it” throw a ball at the other players. This can be less frustrating for the person who is it, and gives the other players more challenge. When a player is hit, they are stuck until another player touches them free. This variation works best with 4 to 6 players. With larger numbers, consider having more than one person be “it” at a time.

Another dodge-ball variation: line up two players at a time and give each player a ball. At the shout of “Go!” have the two duel. Any limb that gets hit becomes useless. If a player gets hit anywhere in the torso, that player loses the duel, and the next in line challenges the champion. Players end up hopping and rolling around the yard, sometimes throwing with their non-dominant hand. A dueler may only touch their own ball during the game. If there are more than a few players waiting in line, you may want to have players go up in teams of two or three at a time.

In all dodge-ball games, make sure all players know that hitting the head or face never qualifies as a hit. That rule tends to protect eyes, ears, and noses.

If you want some chaos, try three-way tag. This is played with only three players. Player 1 chases player 2, player 2 chases player 3, and player 3 chases player 1. To make it a little more interesting, try 4 players. With 4 players, player 1 and 3 can stick together while player 2 and 4 team up to protect each other. Once everyone has established in their minds who is after who, this game is a riot. It works well, and only occasionally leads to a big train of people running in circles around the house.

The secret to all outdoor games is to really get into them while you are playing. Play as if your life depends on it, and by the time the game is through, you’ll have run miles without even realizing it.