Annual Youth Group Weekend Winter Retreat Recap
On Friday, March 11th, 2016 the Youth packed up their sleeping bags, snow pants and candy for their annual Winter Retreat in New Hampshire! This was the second weekend-long Winter retreat John Wesley’s Youth Group has been on. This weekend getaway is not only a time for our Youth to bond and get to know each other, but a time to explore their faith and spiritual walk with God. Off course, a weekend away from parents is always an added bonus!
So that’s exactly what we did! Youth were dismissed from school and headed towards the church parking lot where we loaded up two vehicles with luggage and ski/snowboard equipment. Then we got into the vehicles and started our 4-hour way up north to Camp Calumet in Ossippe, New Hampshire. Half way through the drive we stopped at Five Guys (burger joint) for dinner. And let me tell you, there is nothing better than having 11 Youth, in a car, full of double-cheeseburgers, fries and caffeine. Note to self for next year.
Two hours later, we found Camp Calumet in the dark of night, registered, unloaded our cars, then made our way to the conference area. Once we got there, we were welcomed, introduced to the theme for the weekend: Community, participated in ice breakers and had out first evening devotional. After getting to know the other campers, winning the ice breaker challenge and making our church poster, it was time to walk back to our cabin and retire for the night.
The following morning, we made our way to the conference center for breakfast, played some games, then headed outside to the Pavilion for additional activities. It is worth noting, that Camp Calumet calls this weekend in March, “Winter Fling.” However, because of higher than normal temperatures, there was a slight name change. Instead, it was called, “Mud Fling.” Yup, every time we were doing something outside, it involved getting a little messy. Note to Parents: we did not get in any mud wars or mud sledding : )
Some of the outdoor activities included finding our way out of a circle with our eye’s closed, rock paper scissors into Superman, a healthy came of chase and team building activities to promote community and communication. After the activities, it was time for a Youth Group photo scavenger hunt. This was actually a pretty cool idea…and it helped us get a lot of fun pictures during our time at Calumet.
After lunch it was time to head off to the most anticipated activity of the whole weekend: Skiing and Snow Tubing at King Pine Ski Resort! Although we had warmer temperatures, there was still plenty of powder(ish) to ski and tube. Five Youth hit the slopes and dominated down the trails for a few hours. The other six Youth opted for snow tubing. Skiing and tubing promoted opportunities for the Youth to step outside their comfort zone, be vulnerable and help one another. Including, Youth helping Allison in her time of need…when she whipped out on a steep slope. Notorious words from Milo that we giggled about for the rest of the weekend were, “Allison fell, her hand is ALL bloody and she’s in First Aid.” That’s why you always wear gloves when your skiing kids! But really, everyone had an amazing time skiing and snow tubing.
After skiing and tubing, we packed up and headed back to camp for dinner (and boy were we hungry). After scarfing down our food, we walked to the lake and sat around a huge bonfire. Different church’s performed skits in front of the fire. Some were about community, what inclusion looks like, songs, jokes and more. This was a really fun time to laugh and just enjoy being in one another’s presence after a busy couple of days. After the fire dwindled down, we walked along the beach to an area where a giant fish was outlined with candles in the sand. We had our evening devotional there and reflected on our time at Calumet; what it looks like to be in community and how we can bring other’s into our community. This was a perfect way to spend our last night of the trip: in total darkness, hearing the noises of nature, kneeling besides our friends, shoulder-to-shoulder.
You would think that would be the perfect way to end our time at Calumet, but instead, we dusted off the sand, picked up our glow sticks and headed to the ice cream social. Sugar before bed is a win-win…..
The following morning we had breakfast, packed up the vehicles and walked back to the conference center one last time for a beautiful Sunday Worship Service. The alter was perfectly dressed with what we were surrounded by for the weekend: pine cones, leaves and a birds nest. It was lovely. Different Youth served during the service by calling us to worship, saying a prayer, reading scripture, etc. Two of our own even participated. A lot of our Youth enjoyed this service because it was so different and unique. Nothing they were used to. After the service we had lunch, took a group photo and then it was time, to head home.
While traveling back home, echos of conversation filled the cars. Whispers of how much fun they had, what they enjoyed the most and recalling memories of the weekend were heard. And that my friend’s, is why we go on Youth Retreat’s. There is something special that happens when Youth are able to live, eat and have fun together, uninterrupted and in a different environment. At this tender age, where society, friends and life are tugging at our Youth, there is peace in knowing that these memorable times spent with God and one another, will be imprinted on their hearts.
A very heart-felt thank you to our amazing chaperon’s: Tim Leonard, Lynn O’Brien and Anthony Watkins. Without their support and willingness to serve our Youth, this trip wouldn’t have been possible.
To view more pictures of the weekend, click here.