This coming Saturday is the dreaded "Youth Conference" with the church kids that we've been planning for a few months. And when I say "planning for a few months," I mean "knowing that it's coming and finally meeting to talk about it for the very first time last Friday." And by "dreaded" I mean "I'm considering entering into the witness protection program to get out of this situation because I dread it so much."

Ok, an attitude adjustment could go a long way. I know this guys. Why do you always choose times like this to lecture me about my attitude and how slutty my outfits are?

Anyway, for those unfamiliar with the forty volume set of Mormon lingo dictionaries, Youth Conference is a gigantic outing of some sort that takes place with Mormon kids, ages 14-17, every summer within their local congregations. They usually happen over the course of two or three days and include excessive amounts of games and hormones. They're basically exactly like every rumor you've ever heard about fanatical Christian Bible camps in the south except way less condemnation of Harry Potter and more Jello.

Youth conferences often take the form of some kind of camp-out and I have very fond memories of them as a teenager. Never did I realize how much effort and thought has to go into the planning of one of these things until this year.

Apart from having to find a location to accommodate the group and festivities, the leaders must also plan meals, come up with meaningful and fun activities, obtain permission from every single parent, arrange transportation, AND not start callously hating all teenagers in the process. It's basically like being a parent. I think.

And just to put this into perspective, in Palau, we are only doing Youth Conference for one day. No overnight stuff. And we are only planning on having about 25 kids, rather than the hundred-plus we sometimes had when I was a teenager in Utah. I am gaining a new-found respect for my parents' generation who handled all of this stuff fifteen years ago. AND did it without Internet.

Our plan is to head out to this island nearby that has an old lighthouse on the top of a hill. We're going to hike it and then have a barbecue on the beach and play games for the afternoon. We thought it would feel more legitimate if we also had matching t-shirts made for all of the kids, so on Saturday I ventured off to one of the two places in Palau that can print t-shirts.

I asked them whether they would be able to print about thirty t-shirts by Friday.

Guy: Uh. Ok. Place the order.

Eli: Great. And so you can definitely have these done by Friday?

Guy: Uh-oi.

Eli: So you can? I can FOR SURE pick these up next Friday?

Guy: Ok.

Eli: Ok. Great. So we'll do thirty shirts.

Guy: Ok. We will probably have them done . . . I don't know . . . August 5th.

Eli: Huh? I need them for Friday. So you can't do them by Friday?

Guy: Ok.

Eli: I think we're having a communication problem.

Note: This communication problem is common.

Guy: By maybe August 1st.

Eli: Ok. What if I said this was a race and you needed to do them as fast as possible? Then when do you think you could get them done?

Guy: Well not before September, because we just got an order of 2,000 shirts.

I left after this, because there was no way my order of thirty shirts was going to get done if they had an order of 2,000 waiting. But as I walked away, it hit me. TWO. THOUSAND. SHIRTS.


Guys. There are 20,000 people in Palau. That order is big enough to clothe 10% of the population. And only like 10,000 of those people even wear shirts because it's SO HOT ALL THE TIME ALWAYS. So it's really more like 20%.

Could you imagine if someone placed an order at your local t-shirt printing business in the United States for thirty million shirts?

What could this order POSSIBLY be for?

Anyway, the whole reason I'm writing today is actually because I'm just looking for some ideas for what I can do with the kids for the afternoon after we have lunch. Basically, we'll be on a beach for about four hours and I need to come up with some fun activities/games that won't require much by way of equipment since we don't have a ton of room on the boat. And if you don't have any good ideas, maybe you can just leave a comment with a terrible idea that you definitely DON'T suggest. Like, "start your own meth lab and sell the product to raise money for weapons." Because sometimes it's helpful to hear what kinds of things we shouldn't be doing.

~It Just Gets Stranger