One of our monthly activities with the teens is an overnight. Sometimes we camp out in the yard, sometimes we have a game night marathon, sometimes we just talk. Last month we did a little bit of it all.
The monthly overnight is something all the kids look forward to. It usually starts with some sort of lesson on self-esteem, character building or life lessons and ends with a really good time. This month we were talking about NUTs, or Negative Unconscious, Thoughts and how we deal with them.
NUTs are the disturbing or self-sabotaging thoughts we experience which rob us of self-esteem. Many teens struggle with NUTs, but kids who have experienced trauma and lack support may be unable to overcome that struggle. Our teens were honest with themselves and each other as they shared what they thought of themselves. It takes a lot of trust to open up in a group setting, but all of our kids came together to support each other.
Next, we discussed ideas for diffusing these thoughts and replacing with positive ones. Some of the kids had really great ideas – like focusing on creating something positive and using reassuring self-talk in front of a mirror. We pretended we were all on a bus and the negative thoughts were the cranky riders. We took turns being the driver of the bus, and as the driver it was our responsibility not to let the cranky passengers take us in the wrong direction or stop the bus.
After group, the kids were able to let loose and just be teens. If you’ve never played a round of Bean Boozled you’re really missing out. The kids would spin to see what jelly bean they were looking for and then luck of the draw would decide if it’s a sweet treat or nasty surprise. “Are you sure that’s coconut? It might be sour milk!” “That was not strawberry banana smoothie – Yuck, dead fish!” With each sour pull, they would erupt in laughter.
While we waited for the last parts of dinner to get ready we played a house favorite – Heads Up. The kids used my phone to name celebrities, perform songs, and put on their best accents – all while using their friends' clues to guess the hidden word before the timer runs out. These games encouraged camaraderie and teamwork and really set the tone for a night of fun and laughter.
Dinner was served; all the pizza, chips, salad, and desserts their hearts could desire. We settled in and watched the Emoji together, refilling popcorn and snacks as needed. Those who made it to this point in the overnight without falling asleep finished up the night with a thrilling mystery movie.
These overnights would not be possible without our generous sponsors. Thank you to everyone who helped make this month’s overnight a success!
- Ms. Joy, Counselor