It’s the Monday after the fabulous fall “Walk In It” retreat for preteens sponsored by the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church held at Camp Glisson. The retreat began on Friday night and finished with communion and a worship service on Sunday morning. This was the first spiritual retreat for all of my preteens and for most, the first time they’d ever slept away from home. We loved it!
- The daily schedule was taped to the back of the cabin doors for easy reference and no need to answer the million dollar question: what are we doing next?
- The music, especially the bass, was at a reasonable level at all worship services.
- Each student brought a gently-worn pair of shoes to donate and set upon the communion table as an opportunity to give an offering.
- Morning and evening devotions were prepared and sent to all the leaders a few weeks ahead of time for review and prayer. I especially enjoyed the chance to have my students dig in their bibles to find the scripture and basically, do a bible study each morning and evening. A holy habit practiced!
- The messages were concise, filled with storytelling (because stories are sticky) and developmentally appropriate.
- The videos that accompanied the music were familiar, VBS-like which invited the students to ‘know what to do’ especially for those students whose home church only uses music videos during VBS.
- Signage was great, especially the prayer walk!
- The cost of $110 per student was reasonable and allowed for some partial scholarships. Thank you to the grant from the Discipleship Team of the North Georgia UMC Conference (our apportionment dollars at work!)
- My little photographer had plenty to take photos of; “I really wish I could find some wild life besides people.”
- We taught our students one-on-one how to set a table as we prepared the dinner space ahead of the meal. Watching them serve one another was a thrill to my soul. I liked the mass entrance into the dining hall and dinner prayers outside the doors. Memorable table life, indeed!
- The Saturday evenings’ worship service and message was held beside a lake that when it was over, we stargazed. Our own Mr. Don showed our students the big dipper and the North star.
- Coming from a smaller church, we played games that were especially thrilling when the group was huge: Hurry Potter and a massive game of knee tag where everyone was IT and there was no BASE. Also loved that the Lord protected one of ours from a huge, dead limb falling as she sat under it. The hugs and attention given by students and staff were kind, compassionate, and sincere.
- The camp store was not open so I didn’t have to deal with kids losing money or overindulging in candy and junk food that wrecked havoc with their bodies.
- Elements of family traditions. Several of my students had parents who had awesome Camp Glisson experiences: swimming the waterfalls, worship on holy ground, singing on the porch.
- Elements of adventure: ziplining, rock climbing, tower swinging, crossing bridges, flashlight adventures.
- Having time to visit and chat with other KidMin leaders for encouragement, stories, laughter, exchanging ideas. Relationships maintained through facebook, blogs, and emails…got to enjoy some face-to-face time.
- Another church’s chaperone brought her infant. I still laugh as one of my boys considered himself a baby-whisperer and took every opportunity to share with the mom how she can take care of her baby at camp.
- Prayer Walk that led us from our dining space to our Saturday night worship space with ‘thinking putty.’ One of the stops asked us how we reflected the character of God. After 24 hours with our group, I was able to speak truth of how each one reflected the character of God within the last 24 hours. A very precious moment for my soul.
- Learning that God lives in each of us, God never hides from us, God speaks to us in the quiet and through other spiritual leaders, God wants the best for us, God is not out to huff and puff and blow our house down for what we do wrong but rather to catch us doing well, God wants us to take care of the one on my left and the one on my right.
- Asking crazy questions of everyone on the ride up like ‘what’s under your bed right now?’
- We were in bed with lights-out by 10pm each night and up at 7am. We got plenty of sleep even though we were wore out when we hit the bunks. I always enjoy reading a bedtime story after lights out, so sleep came quickly.
- Stopping for lunch on the way home to process and discuss three questions so we’d have a better answer when Mom asks, “Well, how was it?” (1) What did you learn?, (2) Who did you meet? and something you learned about them, and (3) What will you do now?
- Wearing my fitbit!
Parents and students are already asking about summer camp at Camp Glisson and if we’ll return for a preteen retreat again next year. The answer? OH YES!
“Ready or not, Lord, here I come!” – Pastor Blair Zant