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Youth ready for beach trip, pack shades, sunscreen, Bibles

Forget "The Real Cancun," "Girls Gone Wild" and every other bit of spring break debauchery that you've seen.

This year, the youth of Central Christian Church in Ironton will be assaulting the beaches of Florida not seeking to worship the sun, but rather the Son of Man.

From Easter Sunday until the following Saturday the youth group will relax in Panama City for a week of spiritual teaching, growth and renewal.

Though it will lack some of the shenanigans of those other spring break tales, according to John Adams, the Youth Director of Central Christian Church, it will still have a catchy title.

"We've dubbed it the 'Souled Out Tour,' meaning we're going to explore every area of the kids life that needs to be 'souled out' to God," Adams said.

In between the religious activities, the children will find time to swim with dolphins, riding go-carts, parasailing, and sunning on the pure white beaches of Panama City, they are going for a more important reason.

All those activities seem as if they would be a distraction, but Adams believes the children will stay on task.

In fact, he said putting them in an exotic locale actually makes them more receptive.

"I think one of the great benefits of getting them away from their environment is to help them with other perspectives," Adams said.

"They're a little bit less inhibited, they tend to open up more and feel a little bit freer to be themselves."

Though she didn't think her and her friends would be too caught up in worldly fun to embrace the spiritual teachings, Ironton High sophomore Lauren Knipp, was admittedly pumped about the social side of the trip.

"I'm really excited, I do travel sometimes, but this is the first time I've been to Florida in a really long time," Knipp said.

"Also I get to hang out with a lot of people I know."

Though she hasn't scraped together all the cash to pay for her trip, Knipp said that she's made a lot of progress by selling dough of a different sort.

"There's a lot of fund-raisers; I sold cookie dough," Knipp said.

"I haven't got it all paid yet, but I have paid my down payment."

She's not alone in her cash hunt.

The teens of Central Christian have shoveled snow, raked leaves, cleaned out a basement, and, like Lauren, sold cookie dough to pay their ways.

They also parked cars for the much-anticipated basketball match up between Ironton and Chesapeake last Tuesday night.

The final fundraiser will be a silent auction of items donated by local businesses and individuals.

That auction will take place during a spaghetti dinner at Central Christian Church located at 1541 S. Seventh St. in Ironton at noon, Sunday, March 6. The event will be open to the public, tickets are only available in advance and can be purchased at the church.

Once all the funds have been accrued, the youth director and approximately 25 pupils will travel in church vans to the beaches of Panama City.

Adams, one of the drivers, joked that the spiritual renewal may begin before they see a single palm tree.

"Wait until they see my driving," Adams said, laughing, "that'll get them to pray right there."

Space on the trip is still available. Teenagers who would like to go with the Central Christian Church Youth Group, at a cost per teen of $300. Junior or senior high school students who would like to take their chances with Adams' driving can contact him at 532-2930.