Writer Rachel Held Evans tells a story about playing the game Chubby Bunny at camp in her book Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church.
Held Evans writes about going to the now defunct Camp Maxwell in Haleyville, Alabama with her youth group for a weekend service project for several years when she was a teenager. The youth groups that attended competed over the weekend for an award dubbed the Flush Valve Award.
Now the youth group of Grace Bible Church hate Chubby Bunny. We saw right through the insidious ruse that was Chubby Bunny. But we needed someone to play Chubby Bunny on our behalf if we were to successfully win the Flush Valve Award and put these other youth groups in their place.
As the competition sent to their delegates to the stage to the sound of cheers, we sat quietly in our five rows of wooden pews, moving sawdust around with our shoes. ‘We need a volunteer from Grace Bible Church!’ someone with far too many rubber bracelets on his arm shouted into the microphone.
Names were whispered. Eye contact was averted. Brian [the youth group leader] looked as scared as the rest of us.
Then, from the back, came a steady, certain voice.
‘I’ll do it.’
We all turned.
Mike was a back-row boy if there ever was one. Tall and redheaded, he had a smart mouth and a daredevil spirit and tended to divide his time between detention and the ER. When Mike didn’t like something, he let you know it, and Mike wasn’t too fond of church or school or Camp Maxwell. However, his eyes always betrayed a soft twinkle and he had such a wry, on-point wit that even Bible nerds liked him. I know I wasn’t the only girl who enjoyed drawing a smile out of his stubborn lips, across that freckled face, that strong jaw, and those wide cheeks….cheeks made for Chubby Bunny.
Without another word, Mike strode down the aisle and took his place between a girl in baggy overalls from Birmingham and a terrified junior high kid from Huntsville. They made him wear a trash bag like a bib. He was our Katniss Everdeen, our volunteer for tribute. We won the Flush Valve Award for the third straight year.