If JJ20 were our last, I’d retire from JH happy and joy-filled. That statement simultaneously lauds JJ20’s resounding success and is transparent to an unmistakable six-year enrollment decline to which I alluded in my Director’s Note (Part 5 in this series). Two offered explanations for our downtrend include: 1) We have less visibility due to our geographical displacement even farther from Edina Public Schools (as of JJ18, ‘15-‘16); 2) If only we marketed JH better, our rosters would resurge.
But full resurgence to a company of 140 isn’t our goal. We mirror the numbers of JJs 3 & 4, but each member is likely to know many kids from other clubs. And one fringe benefit for JJ20 was that we were actually able to fit 35+ grads on stage for “Reach,” celebrating both our history and their endorsement of our 90 current Jugheads to maximally endure in this niche of juggling, friendships, performing, and development.
I acknowledge that some opine that I use too much “God talk” related to JJ (and perhaps JH in general), but I do hope that my words at least make it clear that this is a faith endeavor and not some clever plan to make a unique living. Wendy & I believe that we’ll be sustained even with a further downturn, and we do hope we can pass the mantle if ever we were to pull back to the point of not leading daily clubs or annual Juggle Jams. In my own mind, it does make some sense to “get out” to pursue a living with a more stable future (esp. with our downtrend), but my mind is not my Lord, and I serve One who provides, sustains, and gives purpose beyond measure. (One tool of provision, via various grants: the EYJA. Thank you!!)
Ultimately, if our last JJ takes the stage 1-20 years from now, I’ll be content for the years we’ve experienced together. Meanwhile, I’ve already written my JJ21 Opener, scheduled our SLT Retreat, and plan to eagerly encourage summer campers to join. I trust that the same God who gave me a specific, personal calling to youth work (and therefore JH, and JJs 1-20) will graciously sustain Wendy & me as long as we have breath and a will to defy gravity—reaching for the stars, with our feet planted firmly on the Solid Rock.