In the morning, there is the calm before the storm. Everyone is hard at work--staff, youth workers, volunteers--but there are only a few precious hours before the youth arrive. Their buses are being loaded somewhere two, three, five hours away. Or perhaps they have been on buses for one, two, or more days. Some are walking through airport security now, some are preparing for their first flights. Experienced travelers are mixed together with the homesick, who may be leaving home for the first time.
It won’t be long, and they all will be here. There will be confusion--where’s my room, where’s my dinner, why did I come, what are all these key cards for? But by this evening everything will fall into place. The schedule and the programing and the preparation will come together, and National Youth Conference will be on.
Boxes are being hauled into place for registration.
The sun is up. The hive is humming.
Eddie found coffee. He is well.
Buses were scheduled to start arriving at 10 a.m., but the first bus arrived more than an hour early at 8:56 a.m., from Pacific Southwest District. For them, Fort Collins is a distant city in the East, not the West.
“It was a big moment when we crossed the border (out of California) into Nevada,” said Erik Brummitt, pastor of Live Oak Church of the Brethren. “There weren’t any real adventures. Everything went smoothly,” said district advisor Nohemi Flores.
By 9:15 they had been through registration and were leaving for their rooms, water bottles in hand.
Dr. Norm Waggy was ready with sunscreen.
More buses arrived.
Liberty Mills Church of the Brethren youth from South Central Indiana District all wore the same t-shirt bearing the group’s name, “The Chew.” Sydney explained: “You’re not supposed to just read the Bible. You’re supposed to chew on the words.”
The North Liberty Church group from Northern Indiana District had flown in but spent some hours getting exposed to altitude, said Aubrey. “We drove by Mount Evans. It’s about an hour and a half from here. It’s the highest paved road in Colorado, about 14,000 feet.”
A group from Hanover (Pa.) Church of the Brethren did some serious acclimating to the altitude. “On the trip out we went to Estes Park, we took a Rocky Mountain Park jeep tour, we took an Alpine Train to the Estes Park overlook,” said advisor Amy Despines.
Camden of South Waterloo, Iowa, enjoyed the Badlands on the way, but wasn’t impressed with Wyoming. “We did some hiking in the Badlands.”
Meanwhile, the day wore on.
Dr. Waggy, in cargo pants and a bucket hat, started high fiving youth with handfuls of sunscreen.
Staff urged everyone to cover up and drink plenty of fluids.
Luke is part of his high school’s track and cross-country teams, and hoped he was ready to run in Sunday’s early morning 5K. He and his youth group from Spring Creek Church of the Brethren in Hershey, Pa., had been training at altitude in Boulder for a few days. “I think the time zone change works in my favor,” he said. “I do a lot of running early in the morning anyway. The time difference won’t bother me.”
They have a special shirt they’ll unveil at the race.
Soliday took his first flight to come here. It was “good,” he said. He is enjoying himself.
How did high schoolers raise the money to get here? With lots of work and lots of help from their congregations.
Cyrus from Oakton Church of the Brethren in Mid-Atlantic District explained how his group raised money for NYC: “We sold boiled potatoes for a potato lunch. We made around $1,000.”
“We sold chocolate-covered pretzels. They’re very popular,” said Xavier from Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren.
“We did a pancake dinner, a couple’s night out, a movie night,” said Carter of Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
“We do a yearly project. It’s a sauerkraut and pork night. It’s really big,” said Adrianna Keller, a youth advisor from Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
“We had a silent auction. We cleaned houses. We auctioned off an old penny collection. It was probably worth a lot more than it went for,” said Ben of the North Manchester (Ind.) Church.
“We sold slushees at the popcorn festival,” said Josh of Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren in Ohio. (There’s a big popcorn festival in Beavercreek.)
“We served Easter breakfast. The youth were involved in selling gift cards, taking advantage of a script program,” said Dennis Beckner, pastor of Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren.
“We had a chicken noodle dinner and a Super Bowl lunch,” said Trenton of Osage (Kan.) Church of the Brethren.
“We had a love banquet on Valentine’s Day,” said Alyssa and Elizabeth of Monitor Church of the Brethren in McPherson, Kan.
“We had a car show, a tournament, and a spaghetti dinner,” said Erika of the Melvin Hill Church in North Carolina.
“We mostly sold food. We sold food at baseball and softball games. We had a soup and salad dinner, a bake sale, and the church gave us money,” said Gabrielle of the Annville (Pa.) Church.
The shade slowly moved, from the east side of Moby arena to the west side.
Soon, inside Moby, worship will begin.
-- Frank Ramirez contributed this report.
Members of the NYC 2018 Press Team contributed to this reporting. The team includes Laura Brown, Allie Dulabaum, Mary Dulabaum, Nevin Dulabaum, Eddie Edmonds, Russ Otto, Frank Ramirez, Alane Riegel, Glenn Riegel, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.