This weekend, 232 men from 6 different collegiate churches converged in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati for 20 hours of an event we called ManMaker 2014. Just like last year, it was a powerful weekend that launched many young men on a new trajectory of social and spiritual development.
Each participating church takes responsibility for a different element of the weekend, and in our case, H2O Kent took responsibility for managing the food. As you might be able to imagine, it was a lot of food. 52.5 pounds of chips, alone! But serving together with a fine crew of other men, things worked out pretty well.
The camaraderie with the other pastors and staff — both from Kent and from the other schools — was probably the most enjoyable aspect of the weekend for me, personally. There were plenty of other interesting things happening this weekend, however.
Looking at the more obscure, bizarre, and peripheral side of things, here are a few fun facts about ManMaker 2014:
- Our food preparation team assumed that male college students would be relatively unhealthy in their eating patterns — and we selected food in accordance with this assumption. Surprisingly, however, the vegetable trays were some of the hottest items on the snack table, and the whole wheat bread we bought for lunch on Saturday went way quicker than the bleached white bread. I was strangely encouraged to notice this trend towards healthier food options.
- Men sing approximately 2.5 times louder and better when there are no female counterparts in the room. It’s impressive, and you ladies are just going to have to take my word for it.
- The collective smell of 232 collegiate smell is astonishingly similar to the smell of a hippopotamus. This is not hyperbole. I’m not joking. You know how one’s sense of smell can be the most powerful key to unlocking specific memories from the past? Something about the mingling of so many men’s body odor and digestive gasses converged to create a smell that instantly transported me back to the concrete building in which Artis Zoo housed its hippopotamus during the years that we were living in Amsterdam. I have no explanation for this: only the observation.
- For all their flaws and foibles, today’s generation of college men have remarkable potential for good. I was struck by this again and again over the course of the weekend. Of course they showed off and did silly stuff at times, but when we asked them to get serious they got serious. They bared their souls and sought God whole-heartedly. They may have made an awful mess throughout the first 19.5 hours of the retreat — but in the last 30 minutes, they banded together to put things back in order in a highly efficient and excellent way. At the end of the day, they give me a lot of hope for the future of the Church and society.
If you’re so inclined, please pray for the men who attended this year’s ManMaker retreat. Hearts have been stirred, but the real work of living as Men of Honor happens in the day-to-day stuff from here on out.