Why Jubilant Jennifer you might ask? What is this odd adjective you speak of?
Well, it’s actually pretty near and dear to my heart.
For the past 3 years, I’ve spent the first weekend of my June in Jacksonville, AL, at the Alabama Youth Leadership Program’s annual high school leadership conference. As nearly one hundred rising high school juniors converge upon Jacksonville State University at the unspeakable summer hour of 7AM on Friday, there is an immediate race to get them energized in the muggy morning air. As a group of 10-15 gather, we bright-eyed and bushy-tailed group leaders lead them over to the quad to get the weekend’s activities started off with a bang. Because the “kids” don’t know what group they will be assigned to yet, it’s very important to me that they make a connection with the other students in this ice breaker group, because it sets the tone for their entire weekend.
A personal favorite ice breaker of mine is what I like to the call The Name Game (cue: dramatic music). The name game asks that one person begin the circle by placing an adjective in front of their name that closely resembles their personality but also starts with the first letter of their first name. (You see where I’m going with this, yet?) Of course, I always make myself the example, but NOT the first contestant, because, for me, that’s where the fun comes in. Not only do you have to give yourself an adjective, but you have to name everyone else who has gone before you. If you’re the first few people, this isn’t a big deal… “My name is Preppy Preston, that’s Tall Tucker, and that’s Beautiful Brittany.” Right? Pretty simple? It gets tricky when you’re the say… 15th person in the circle? THAT’S MY FAVORITE PART!! Yes, I truly get that excited about it. I ALWAYS use the name Jubilant Jennifer and pride myself on going last and being able to name all of the kids’ names. Because, folks, I LOVE these children.
Jubilant Jennifer rediscovers her life’s passion every year in Jacksonville, AL, on a quiet, humid morning standing on wet grass encircled by 15 and 16 year olds still sleepy eyed and shy.
(Yes, I just spoke in 3rd person there… it was for dramatic effect. Live with it.)
If you’ve read the other whopping two posts here at Jubilant Jennifer, you’ve heard a bit about my passion for the students of AYLP. Because 2 out of the now 3 posts here are based on the same subject, you could probably guess what place this conference and these kids hold in my heart. At this point in my life, I don’t have the opportunity to work with high school students on a daily basis like I would truly love to, but between the 2 leadership conferences I do in the summer (Yes, there’s another. ALHSLF. That’s another post.) and the Thomasville High School Leo Club which I help advise throughout the school year, I live out my passion “on the side.” I feel strongly that at some point in life, it is my calling to positively influence this oh-so-impressionable age, regularly.
AYLP is the first conference of the summer and kicks off what a few fellow group leaders and I like to call- Leadership Camp Season. Over the month of June, I find my face plastered with a constant smile over the friendships I have formed with not only students, but fellow group leaders, as well. These conferences give SO MUCH MORE to me than I could ever dream to give back to them! I could, literally, go on for hours and hours about the love and passion I hold for events such as AYLP and ALHSLF, and the students that they reach. 🙂 They make my heart swell with pride and fondness just typing about them!
To spare your Friday-morning-please-just-get-me-out-of-here-I’m-ready-for-the-weekend eyes, I’m signing off to be able to make it through my own work day…. TGIF!!
But first… a few more pictures..
And an added bonus…