Recently I was asked, “How do you come up with the themes for Kid’s Night Out?” The answer is really quite simple…I think back to when I was a kid and what were the things I dreamed of being allowed to do – being immersed in larger than life worlds or really doing things that only grown ups are supposed to do.
As an adult I realize that these dreams were really about enjoying a sense of larger purpose, validation, and importance as a kid. When I was in sixth grade, my best friends and I wrote a movie script and attempted to shoot a mystery movie. Although we didn’t win an Oscar [matter of fact, we never finished (really we never started shooting – this was way back before camcorders so it turned out we had no way to film our film)] it was so much fun to be a part of something big like Hollywood.
When I was in ninth grade, my friends and I made another run at the “grown up” world. We started our own singing telegram business. My grandmother sewed us matching black satin jumpers with the letters “DJs” on the front bib in red. (My best friends were Jean Ann and Jeannie). We took orders. We made money. We sang in rhyme to wish people happy birthday, congratulations, and other celebratory messages. The thing is we didn’t want to be adults. What we wanted was to feel that we were capable of big things, of being valuable, of being much more than “just” kids. Who wants to be “just” anything?
Some Kid’s Night Out themes have been:
Candyland – where children were enveloped in a glittery, sweet bigger than life size Candyland game board in which they were allowed to decide how much candy was too much candy to eat
To Be An Astronaut– where we did real experiments, built real robots, and had our pictures made with the American flag and created mission patches just like real astronauts
Medieval Adventure – where we entered a world of long ago with castles, moats, jousting, and family crest making while we were dressed as lords and ladies.
Valentines Dinner for our Parents – where the children became chefs and literally prepared homemade lasagna, breadsticks, salad, and chocolate covered strawberries with menus and candle dripped bottles for centerpieces. All of which was packaged up in decorated to go bags for the children to serve to their parents on Valentines.
So how do I pick a theme for KNO? Don’t get me wrong, there certainly is the mandatory element of fun, but at the core, I guess it really is about meeting a need that kids (and adults alike) have – feeling a part of something bigger than our own lives and validating our sense of purpose. Doesn’t that feel like church?