TAPT: Teens Are Praying Together
Nearing the end of closing Mass (Reunion Mass) for TAPT XXVII, I grabbed a mic after communion, and made the announcement that was long overdue:
T.A.P.T. is no longer an acronym for "Teens Are People Too," but rather "Teens Are Praying Together."
Why the change?
When the retreat was founded in 1989, co-founders chose "Teens Are People Too," which was a play on the TV show "Kids Are People Too," a variety show for kids which ran in the early 1980's. The words seem to evoke a common sentiment at the time: that young people were often ignored, neglected. Kids in the 70's-80's were often dubbed "latchkey kids," kids left at home while both parents worked.
Fast forward to today. While it's still very common- perhaps more common- for both parents to work, it would be very difficult to call today's generation of young people ignored or neglected. Perhaps a reaction to the way they were raised, parents compensated by making children the center of attention: video recording their childhood, creating layers upon layers of organized youth sports and activities, and becoming highly involved in their academics. The term "latchkey" was replaced by "helicopter parent." President Bill Clinton was often mocked for his frequent "think of the children" inclusion in speeches throughout his administration, and today's children always earned a participation trophy, regardless of wins and losses. "Teens Are People Too" connotes a sense of inferiority in a culture that does not promote such a complex!
That said, "TAPT" has become a powerful brand! We stopped including the words "Teens Are People Too" in our marketing a long time ago. We intentionally typed "TAPT" instead of "T.A.P.T." Rarely were the words "Teens Are People Too" ever used. TAPT is about a retreat. A retreat that brings teens into an intimate encounter with the Incarnate Christ.
But parents, youth ministry leaders, priests, and teens considering attending would still ask, "What does T.A.P.T. stand for?"
The TAPT Administrative Board set out to find a new acronym to retain the TAPT brand. Of all the ideas that surfaced, none were a better fit than Teens Are Praying Together. Prayer is integral to the weekend: teens contribute to the prayer wall. There is a tealight "Shine Jesus Shine" petition candle prayer on Friday night. Small groups pray before and after all discussion sessions. Meal prayers. The "Prayer of Water and Light" Saturday morning, an adaptation of an RCIA rite. There is a Sacramental Reconciliation. There is Mass. Guests pray in the Adoration Chapel. OATS team prays for TAPTsters all weekend. "Together" reminds us of our communal nature as Catholics; we are a people who celebrate life with Jesus together, not in private.
In 27 years, our culture and society have changed around TAPT, but Christ remains.
Behold, I make all things new. (Rev 21:5)