The Awkwardness of Beach Olympics

We’re gonna let you in on a little secret that happens during opening weekend at Emerge. Being that this is only my first year being involved with Emerge, I’m not sure what the first few opening weekends looked like, but I know that Beach Olympics is by far one of the most awkward things they make you do while being here. Approximately forty eight hours after you moved into Emerge, the lead team and Emerge staff drag you to the beach, split you into teams, and make you play awkward games against each other. I could try and explain everything that happened that day, but I think these pictures and comments from the Vineyard class say it all. 

I had to tie myself to Ben. Our bodies were touching. We fell and our bodies stuck together...we had to peel ourselves apart. And the sand. The sand got between the bands and our ankles and it really hurt. - Logan Pilcher

I had to tie myself to Ben. Our bodies were touching. We fell and our bodies stuck together...we had to peel ourselves apart. And the sand. The sand got between the bands and our ankles and it really hurt. - Logan Pilcher

I was really excited about it! We got to do a lot of shoulder to shoulder activities and that’s what I’m all about. - Michelle Thompson

I was really excited about it! We got to do a lot of shoulder to shoulder activities and that’s what I’m all about. - Michelle Thompson

My quitting moment was that first opening weekend. Beach Olympics definitely raised the awkwardness by like, a million. I try not to think about that weekend. - Zach Brown I thought, "If this is what Emerge is going to be like, I’ve made a huge mistake." - Kelly Phillipson

My quitting moment was that first opening weekend. Beach Olympics definitely raised the awkwardness by like, a million. I try not to think about that weekend. - Zach Brown

I thought, "If this is what Emerge is going to be like, I’ve made a huge mistake." - Kelly Phillipson

The team building was so awesome. - Ryan Doonan

The team building was so awesome. - Ryan Doonan

My favorite part was having our feet tied together. Once I stepped forward and almost landed a perfect split...I thought, "This is what the next few months of my life are going to look like. God was going to be stretching me in different directions." John 21:18 came to mind. "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." - Meghan Munsch

My favorite part was having our feet tied together. Once I stepped forward and almost landed a perfect split...I thought, "This is what the next few months of my life are going to look like. God was going to be stretching me in different directions." John 21:18 came to mind. "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." - Meghan Munsch

To get a better understanding of why we have to endure so much awkwardness in one event, we asked some of the lead team what their thoughts on the olympics were. Here’s what we got:

The Beach Olympics are one of my favorite things we do opening weekend. It's a time where students begin to open up and we get to see their personality. Students are stretched to get out of their shell and work together as a team. I'd say just watching the interns who you thought were quiet get really competitive is always hilarious. I also love to watch the interns who aren't from Destin enjoy the beautiful beach. I love watching everyone have fun and make awesome memories! - Shannon Kanaday

The best thing about the Beach Olympics is that I get a chance to see how all of the new students interact together. It's an instant way to see personalities and attitudes. I get to see how the students will handle pressure under stress, and how they work together with other students. My favorite moment at the Beach Olympics day is when we all relax in the water afterwards and talk about the events . I get to witness the students becoming friends for the first time. To me the Beach Olympics is never awkward, it's always an incredible tool to help build community and relationships at Emerge. The crazy games and awkward challenges create funny memories that we all share, there's something about doing something ridiculous with a group of people that brings you close together. You can learn a lot about a person when you see them win or lose. Students can't help but show their true colors when they lose the Sandcastle challenge. It helps us all learn how we can interact better with each other and places we can encourage the students to be growing in over the next year. - Pastor Matt Ruckel

The Beach Olympics, even with all the awkwardness, really is a great way to get everyone out of their comfort-zones and working together. Does that change that fact that it’s still an awkward event? No, not at all. I think most of us agree that it was one of the most traumatizing things we've done at Emerge. Would we do it again? Absolutely. Because we had so many hilarious moments and formed such an amazing bond. So be ready future classes. You’ll get to enjoy this awkward day, too!