Our Pastor does this event every year. If you are close to a huge mall like ours, you can make this happen! We book a bus, travel 3 hours to Edmonton, sleep on the floor of a church but spend most of our time at West Edmonton Mall. Kids under 14 must have an adult with them, all others must check in every so often.
We use the little chapel in the mall and have speakers come for 4 sessions throughout our time at the mall. We use our own junior youth band for worship time at these sessions. In between, kids can shop (we go in early Dec.), go to the indoor water park, go to indoor “Funland” (rides, etc), go mini golfing, go to a show, etc. We also rent a pool right across from the church we stay at and go late night swimming. (Other times we have skipped the swimming and gone roller-skating or something different).
The kids usually pool their money in the evening and order pizza delivered to the church. We have occasionally been able to bring in bands. We have devotions every night at the church.
We pull them out of school at noon on that Friday to go and return back home in time to attend service in our local church. Total cost for the kids is $70 for the weekend plus whatever spending money. They eat at the food kiosks in the mall except for breakfast, which we provide (muffins, fruit, juice, etc.) Sunday morning on the way home we usually stop at McDonald's.
Because West Edmonton Mall has so many features and many of our rural kids have never been there or at least not with their friends, this is a very popular event. They are encouraged to invite as many of their friends as they want. We try to use our college age kids as chaperones and sometimes even speakers, sharing their testimonies.
Linda Herron, Youth leader, Bethany Lutheran Church, Innisfail, Alberta, Canada
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.