The Amazing Race

I had the most wonderful time this past Wednesday. I volunteered to assist with the youth group in their 2nd annual “Amazing Race”. They needed drivers to drive teams around Orlando doing various challenges. I thought “they need drivers, how bad could it possibly be?”. Wow did I underestimate the situation. Here is how the day went…………..

It started at the church with a briefing for all drivers and other “associated persons”. We were told that we were not to assist the teams in any way except driving. We were also told that there would be some challenges that we would need to accompany the kids on. But for the most part, we were just observing. After the briefing, the drivers went to their vehicles and waited for the teams. Teams consisted of 5 teenagers wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “The Amazing Race”. For those of you that have seen the tv show, yes, the shirts looked just like that.

The race started with the teams putting together a 24 piece puzzle which they then turned over to reveal another word puzzle. This puzzle directed them to the church welcom center where they were given another word puzzle. After completing this puzzle, they got there first clue. They were to proceed to a church members home for their first challenge. It was a scary sight, seeing 5 teenagers sprinting for your vehicle and then piling in through every possible opening. So the race begins. I was driving the “Purple” team and we were the first team to leave the church.

We arrived at the church members home and the kids were asked the question “Fire or Ice”. They chose fire, a bowl full of the hottest salsa I have ever tasted. They switched to ice and all five of them proceeded to attempt to eat a gallon of ice cream. Shortly after, the “Pink” team arrived. One of there members took the bowl of salsa and drank it in two gulps. They then left. My team just stared in disbelief. They then decided that between the five of them, they could put away one of the bowls…………so they did. It was a sight to see, and cudos to all of them. I would have kept at the ice cream, and I’m lactose intolerant.

From there they had to run (not ride in my car) to a park that was approximately 1/2 a mile away. At the park they were given a raft which they had to inflate. They then had to swim across a lake to a dock on the opposite side. They could only take 3 team members at a time. One would have to come back and pick up the remaining two team members. Team Purple was the second team in the water (after team Pink), and the first team out of the water. We were back in the lead, and headed back to the church.

At the church we were given our next challenge. One team member would be shown a picture on a tv screen for 30 seconds. They would then be asked several questions about the picture. If they got all of them right, they move on. If not, they get a new picture, and new questions. They had to do all of this while trying not to get struck by lightning. (During this event, a really really bad thunderstorm moved through the area.) My team started the challenge and moved on to the next one after the second picture. (My kids were awesome!!)

This is where it gets interesting………and painful. I took my team to Down Town Disney where we met with a “Host” who gave them their next challenge. The were to do the following……….

Using all three forms of Disney Transportation (Monorail, Bus, & Water Taxi) they had to make their way to the following locations on Disney Property: Disney Boardwalk, Epcot, Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Upon arrival they had to get a team picture (including the driver) in front of each location. They also had to get their pictures taken on all three forms of transportation. Extra bonus minutes would be awarded if they were to get the driver of each form of transportation in the photograph. After they finished, they were to return back to Down Town Disney.

Okay, so this isn’t so bad. Right? Well, let me fill you in on some things. First of all, every one of my teenagers are very competative. Second, Disney transportation………not so quick. Third, apparently many of the destinations………………………….are within running distance of each other. So, we took a bus to the entrance to Disney Boardwalk. From there we ran to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (not to far). We then ran to Epcot (approx. 1/2 mile). We then hopped a Water Taxi to the other side of the lake (Boardwalk borders a really big lake) and ran to Disneys Hollywood Studios (approx 1 mile). We then took a break and hopped a bus to the Contemporary Resort. Here we got on the Monorail to Magic Kingdom where we hopped a Water Taxi to the Wilderness Lodge. From here we took a bus back to Down Town Disney, where we were dropped off on the opposite end from where we needed to be. So yes, we ran to the other end…..about another mile or so. Okay, so we ran about 2 1/2 to 3 miles. Not so bad right? Well, did I mention that my kids were competative? Did I say that we “ran”. I’m sorry, I meant we “sprinted”. I was a bit tired. Anyway, we were the second team to finish this event.

We then drove to the “Mall at Millenia” where the teams were given a picture of the Pastor, and asked to locate him in the mall. No small feat since this is a pretty big mall. When they found the Pastor, he gave them a picture of someone else they had to find. When they found that person, they were given yet another person to find. After finding that person, they all came back to the Food Court for dinner. Chick-Fil-A, yum. At this point, we found out that we were given a penalty. Apparently, each team was supposed to have a person who had never been to a church event before. Ours didn’t have anyone one new. So we had to sit for 10 minutes. We were the 4th team to leave the mall for our next challenge.

When we left, we went to Lake Eola (a very big lake). Hear the kids had to get pictures of random people in the area of the lake doing the following:
A man proposing to a woman
Two people having a “thumb war”
Someone showing the “Vulcan Salute” (Think Spock from Star Trek)
and last, but certainly not least……

Six people doing a human pyramid. Yes, you read that right, and yes, they completed the task……….1 1/2 hours later. We were so far behind it wasn’t funny.

We then drove a half an hour back to Winter Garden to a bowling alley. At the bowling alley, each team member had to bowl 1 frame. The team would be penalized 1 minute for each pin that was missed. We were the fourth team to arrive at the bowling alley. The other teams were finished bowling and were still waiting to leave. The wait time ranged from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. My team missed a total of 14 pins. We were the second team to leave the bowling alley, and it was once again a race between the Pink and Purple teams.

We drove to a church members house where we learned that 1000 pennies had been placed in the bottom of their pool. 10 of them had been colored with a Sharpie marker. They had to find one. When we arrived, the Pink team was leaving. It took my team a grand total of 3 minutes to find a “Sharpied” penny.

We drove to yet another church members home where 400 plastic forks were stuck in the back yard. On each fork was a letter, and a number. Teams first had to find the letters that spelled “Twilight”. Once that was done, they then had to do a math equation with the numbers. When we arrived, the Pink team was working on the math equation. Purple team took 5 minutes to find the word, and about 30 seconds to work the math equation. Pink was still working the math when we left. It was then back to the church………….and the finish line.

Purple team was the first team to leave the church, and the first team across finish line. We so rocked this race! Overall the experience was absolutely awesome. I had quite a few “Characters” on my team. The things teenagers come up with. It was so much fun. It started at noon and we crossed the finish line at about 10:30pm. It was so much fun.

I won’t lie. I really didn’t know what to expect. I had committed myself to spending about 11 hours with 5 teenagers I had never met. I was told that I would have fun. I figured I would. What I didn’t realize is just how much fun I would have. It’s an experience I will not soon forget. And yes, I will do it again next year. (After all, I have a title to defend now. :-)) And for those of you with a sadistic mind, yes, I am still paying for all of the “running” I did. Ugh.

Talk to you all later.

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