Our church has gone on a winter retreat for several years. I really don’t know how long we’ve been going. I just know it’s happened consistently for at least 7, probably more. For years, we went to Spring Hill, but the decision was made before I came to switch to Bair Lake, I’m assuming because of cost and distance. I hear nothing but great things about both. I’ve only experienced Bair Lake, since that’s where we went last year, and it was good, but I like to reinvent the wheel sometimes. I like to manage the most important variables: worship and teaching. I don’t want to do either myself, but I do want to have a say – a giant say – in who does them. So this year, we did our very first winter retreat from scratch. We didn’t attend a program set up by someone else, which had its pros and cons, and in the end, it turned out just fine. Perhaps better than fine. Here are my quick thoughts on the work leading up to the weekend and the weekend itself:
- It takes more work and causes more stress for me to arrange everything myself. I’m okay with that, though. It’s my job, and I love my job, and I’m willing to work at it.
- The greatest source of stress comes from not knowing if the kids will enjoy everything. If they don’t enjoy everything at the other camp, it’s on the camp, not me. This time, I decided what we’d be doing, so I felt more nervous.
- Every session was a home run in my opinion. Worship was led by our very own Hannah C, who is a teenager in our youth group. She led well beyond her age. Then there’s Joe, who was interesting, funny, and well prepared for his lessons. Tired as I was, I didn’t find myself drifting at all.
- Our students get involved in the activities and stay involved. We had an hour long snow fort building contest, and all four teams kept working until time was up (and a little after).
- Riding a tube pulled by a snowmobile is really fun, but really nerve racking. I’m an old softy, and I was worried about how I would feel if I had wiped out. I guess I’ll never know, because Dennis couldn’t throw me, despite his best efforts.
- I love my youth group, the teaching, seeing my young youth leaders carry themselves like long time pros, and watching a student lead well.
- The students worshiped. They didn’t goof off and talk during the singing. They worshiped. It was amazing to see. Then they paid attention during the lessons. You can get pretty squirrelly being on a retreat and sitting through four sessions in 48 hours.
- 30 – the number of teenagers we had. That’s the largest total number we’ve ever had, and in years past, junior high and senior high have gone on different weekends, so it the total number was split up. P.s. I loved only being away from my family and children’s ministry for one weekend, as opposed to two. That eliminated one huge source of stress for me. Oh, 30 is also the number of dollars saved per student versus what we did last year.
- 5 – the number of adults on the trip. That’s one adult to six students, and one of the adults was from outside of our church.
- 0 – the number of disciplinary problems and injuries we had.
- 1 – the number of meals I wish I would have never eaten. Going 4/5 isn’t bad for camp food. The rest wasn’t great or terrible, which is great by camp standards.
- 1 – the number of students who threw up.
All-in-all, I think it was a great trip. I will send out evaluations and verify my take on things with students and parents. I got to talk to t he group in my van on the way back, and discuss what was good, bad, and ugly. It was a nice talk.