Coming to your first YAG can feel a little overwhelming, so we’ve tried to collect a bunch of handy information into one place to make for an easy transition to having a great time!
Bring a Friend – or Several!
Coming to a different state to meet 50 – 100 people is significantly less daunting if you know there will be at least ONE person there who you already know.
See if you can convince a sibling, a friend from your home parish, or both to make the trip with you! Many of our repeat YAGers, who come almost every year, first made the trip with a carload of friends from their home states. Others fly in, meet up in the airport, and then share a rental car for the weekend.
Don’t have anyone your age in your home parish? See if you can arrange to finally meet up with an online penpal at the YAG!
Don’t Read Too Much Into It
While you MIGHT find romance at the YAG, either purposefully or accidentally, just focus on having a good time, meeting lots of people, and then let things happen as they may. We want everyone to have a good time, regardless!
Since this may be your first gathering exclusively for adults, do keep a few basic social considerations in mind as you mingle, though:
You will almost certainly receive more attention than you are used to getting at the YAG, simply because that is human nature. Most attendees are outgoing and friendly, and will try to strike up a conversation with anyone who happens to be standing by, whether they mean anything by it or not. Keep in mind that many people are bad at judging age – if you’re 17-19, guys may think you are older. If you suspect a guy is significantly older than you, find a way to casually bring up your age or something that is a clear indicator of it, like, “At my high school graduation last year . . .” or something of the sort. Older guys also tend to have better social skills, so they may attempt to draw you into a conversation or ask you to dance just to help you have a good time, rather than out of any romantic interest.
Remember that while it is a man’s prerogative to chase, it is a lady’s prerogative to either gratefully accept his attentions or to politely decline them! If a gentleman’s attentions are unwelcome, speak up! With so many other people around, you can excuse yourself with something along the lines of, “It’s been nice talking with you, but if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to talk with some other people now,” or, “I want to go see what that group over there is doing.” Remember, though, that many gentlemen are shy and/or inexperienced, and may not realize that they are burdening you with their attentions – especially if you keep politely listening and smiling!
If at any point you need help dealing with a particularly obtuse gentleman, you can always ask the YAGermeister to discreetly intervene on your behalf. Most of the time the guy just has no clue that you aren’t enjoying the conversation as much as he is.
Remember that while a lady may be perfectly willing to have ONE conversation with you over dinner, along with all the other people at your shared table, this does NOT mean that she is necessarily willing to endure 25 conversations with you over the course of the weekend, especially one-on-one. Likewise, to dance more than 3 or 4 times with the same lady, especially in a row, unless there is a shortage of partners, tends to be a bit excessive.
Many of our attendees come from small parishes or missions and are not used to extensive social interaction with the opposite sex. Don’t be pushy, and don’t assume a girl is a snob just because she clams up when you try to talk to her. She is probably just not used to talking to guys, or you’re coming on too strong. Rather than pigeonholing girls and putting them on the spot, aim to have the bulk of your conversations in a group setting, and involve more than one person at a time!
And if you DO meet someone you’re interested in, remember that aggravation tends to kill attraction VERY quickly – don’t follow girls around as if you are a puppy or a duckling. Mix. Mingle. Talk to a wide variety of people, of both sexes! Get feedback from other guys, especially the ones who have sisters, on how your advances are being perceived. Practice makes perfect!
At an event like this, most people want to meet a lot of people. It is rude to monopolize one person’s time for (an) hour(s) on end, and to constantly seek out their company to the exclusion of anyone else’s. If you ARE looking for marriage, remember that not everyone is, so don’t wear out your welcome trying to convince someone that they should be, too.
Watch how the other person reacts – are they contributing at least a comparable amount to the conversation, or they just nodding along because they can’t get a word in edgewise?
Be considerate! Remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!”
Dress Level Advisory
Friday night is your first impression, so dress accordingly. A minimum of nice slacks and a polo or button-front shirt with dress shoes is recommended for guys, although you may want to break out at least your suit jacket. Tie optional but a plus. A nice dress is recommended for girls – something date-worthy but still comfortable.
Both men and women should keep in mind though that the evening ends with a bonfire and s’mores outdoors, and that Higher Ground has a gravel parking lot. Bug spray will be provided.
We do not have a scheduled time for the daily Rosary since many people say it during Mass, but you are welcome to organize it in the conference room in the dorm at some point before curfew for anyone who would like to attend.
Many people wear nicer clothes for Mass in the morning and then change into more casual attire once we go back to Higher Ground after breakfast. Cincinnati is HOT and HUMID in the summer. Sun hats and sunglasses are highly recommended. Sunscreen and cold drinks will be provided all day; you have the option to be outdoors or indoors in the air conditioning as you please.
The Higher Ground campus has a professional quality AstroTurf football/soccer field (PLEASE read the campus rules re using it!), so provided it is not in use by another group, you may want to bring appropriate attire for a game. We usually have many soccer enthusiasts among our attendees.
The group photo is taken immediately after dinner on the porch steps/levels in front of our dorm.
Since the group photo follows immediately after dinner, and the square dance follows the group photo, many people shower before dinner and change into nicer clothes. Cowboy boots and hats welcome at the square dance! Ladies, full, swishy skirts are a plus, but avoid skirts and dresses that are longer than ankle-length because they will get in your way. Comfortable, securely-attached shoes HIGHLY recommended. Flip-flop-type sandals will fall off your feet.
Height of dress code. Suit and tie plus dress shoes for men, nice dress or skirt/top combo plus dress shoes for women. Plan to take all of your belongings with you when you leave Higher Ground in the morning – we will not be coming back.
Some people change for bowling – ladies, don’t forget socks! – but many stay in at least some part of their dressier attire.
After the YAG ends at 3 pm, many people trickle back to St. Gertrude’s to help clean up and to eat any leftover ice cream. There may be other leftovers that you can take on the road with you.
A side trip to St. Stephen’s Cemetery in Hamilton is often organized after the YAG has officially ended to say the Rosary at Fr. Cekada’s and Bp. Dolan’s graves. The YAGermeister will be too tired to oversee or to attend, so if people want to do this they are on their own.
The address is:
1314 Greenwood Ave., Hamilton, OH 45011
The graves are located side by side. Find the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto and the large F. X. Black mausoleum and draw a rough triangle westward to find them. Fr. Cekada’s has a statue of St. Anthony on top of the headstone. Follow the locals!