The entire church youth group trip to Daytona Beach in 1989 was a rebellion. Our youth minister was an introverted, mousy married man who, on this trip, would begin an affair with one of the chaperones who was divorced by spending a couple of hours alone with her riding the ocean waves in an inflatable raft. Our music minister was also along for the trip, but he could hardly discipline a bunch of teenagers. The main threat that kept us following their rules was the threat of being sent home, but we made sure that we pushed the limits of their rules. At night, we waded out farther in the ocean than they said we could. We ventured past the designated boundary for nightly strolls on the beach. We stayed out until the last few seconds before our curfew and then dawdled in the halls for at least another half-hour.
Our trip involved running a Bible school type class for kids by the pool at three different hotels. At night, we performed at one of the hotels, starting out with a puppet show, then lip-synching a couple of oldies songs and finally performing a musical of contemporary Christian songs. I was part of the lip-synching portion. The song “Lollipop” was bad enough, but the second song was a sappy one called “Born Too Late.” The idea had not been so bad a few months before when it was part of the entertainment for our ’50s-themed fund-raiser. Somehow, doing the same skit in front of complete strangers held none of the original appeal – even though there were less than a dozen strangers in attendance at either of the shows.
Regardless, I was determined to get out of performing “Born Too Late,” and the other three girls didn’t seem to mind my finding a way out. In hindsight, I could’ve left the tape at home, but I’m not sure why I didn’t try that. I did, however, forget to take it to the first practice session after arriving in Daytona. When prompted to retrieve it, I used the privacy of my hotel room to pull the tape out of its casing and then return to the music minister’s room with a handful of stringy mess, blaming the destruction on the unorganized contents of my very large, acid-washed denim pocketbook. The look on the music minister’s face showed that he knew exactly what was going on, but I didn’t care. I piled the tape in his capable hands and went on my way. Even though he had repaired the tape by the last performance, I had given myself a two-night reprieve, and that was better than none at all.
On our last night, we made our final plea for a later curfew. When we were denied, we made signs in the hotel lobby and returned to march through the music minister’s suite chanting our wishes. Basically, we were up past midnight protesting, but we achieved our purpose in a roundabout way.
Even the trip home had its share of battles. We argued with each other for space in that 15-passenger van, and we fought over the music selection, especially when George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” came on the radio. Our youth minister changed the station, but our cries of protest eventually made him change it back. To look back on the trip now, I’m amused by the fact that the whole experience was sort of framed by sexual entertainment. Our first night of the trip we stayed in Jacksonville with families of our music minister’s former church. At the house where the girls stayed, we watched Dirty Dancing. Combine these two facts with our youth minister’s impending extra-marital affair, and you have one big Southern Baptist irony.