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'X Factor' returns starting Sunday at Tabernacle - Ocean City Sentinel: Arts & Entertainment

'X Factor' returns starting Sunday at Tabernacle

Non-denominational youth groups teach life lessons in fun and unusual ways

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Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 1:00 am

Life lessons aren’t usually found while duct-taping peers to the wall, but at X Factor, a non-denominational middle and high school youth group held at the Ocean City Tabernacle, these types of creative activities are essential to drawing students in and helping them grasp life lessons.

“It’s just about creating something different, other organizations have all been so cookie cutter over the years,” said X Factor director Eric Hitchner. “If we can create something different, they’ll want to come, and we hope the parents will feel the same way.”

After a brief hiatus, X Factor will resume on Sunday, Oct. 3, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. for middle school students and from 6:30 until 8 p.m. for the newly added high school X Factor, which will be modeled after feedback from the middle school program.

Each hour and a half session incorporates a series of games, food and bonding activities, in addition to special monthly trips and activities. Upcoming is the October “locked up” night, where students will compete for prizes locked in safes, a “gladiator up competition” in November and their annual Thanksgiving turkey bowl, where students literally bowl with frozen turkeys.

“It may be some crazy individual thing you would never think of,” said Hitchner. “We may have you dive into something with a fork.”

X Factor students say some of the strangest activities they’ve done include eating live worms, putting live grasshoppers in a milkshake, duct-taping students to a wall for a Christmas in July party and throwing squid through Hula Hoops.

“It’s things you wouldn’t normally do, but it’s fun,” added John Redding. X Factor students also travel to a ski week in the winter and a summer camp.

“Once, he had a rabbit jump out of a trashcan,” said Rachel Fosbenner, an X Factor middle school participant. “It makes learning interesting.... It always relates somehow. It’s like a crazy metaphor.”

Hitchner added that he tried to relate most of the group’s activities back to the day’s Bible lesson, which he gears to be as religiously inclusive as possible.

“I love it because it’s non-denominational,” Hitchner said. “There’s a huge mix of kids, atheist, Catholic, Methodist, Jewish ... no one feels that they can’t be a part of it.... It’s just a good practical life application.”

The X Factor youth groups will meet the first Sunday of every month beginning Oct. 3. Middle School students will meet from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and from 6:30 until 8 p.m. for high school students. For more information on X Factor and other student programs, visit the Ocean City Tabernacle website at http://www.octabernacle.org/.

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