Last Friday night through Sunday afternoon, I had the opportunity to work a retreat for sixth through eighth graders at Inspiration Hills. We actually had the most students registered ever in the seven years this retreat has been happening! Being an education major with a middle school endorsement, honestly not much could have excited me more. Aside from our fearless planner Lee and her husband and daughter and one other youth group leader, all the rest of the staff were Dordt students. We got to work side-by-side with each other, from beginning planning a few months ago, to spending every minute together this weekend. I would love to share some pictures with you from this weekend, as well as a small recap of what it consisted of. The theme verse for the retreat was Romans 8:15 which says, "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."" From this, our theme was created, "Fearless."
Friday night we arrived, shared a meal together, and waited for our kiddos to show up. We played some whole group mixer games which included a lot of balloon popping and running. :) Our first speaker, Sarah, spoke on adoption and the beauty of God's love for us. She is an amazing artist, and painted us a tree on which each of the students and counselors got to put our finger prints on, symbolizing God adopting us into his family. Hence, a family tree. The imagery was absolutely beautiful. We also enjoyed some athentic worship led by our praise team.
After each of the four speakers, we split up into small groups. Each group had one Dordt leader and three to six students! We discussed the topics from the speakers and other awesome things about faith. Below are just a few of the small groups.
Saturday morning our speaker was Lexi, and we talked about us being children of God. We saw how even though a dollar bill may be crinkled or folded up or dirty or tossed aside, it still holds its value. Even when we feel that way, God still sees our value and calls us his children.
The remainder of Saturday morning was full of free time and building relationships with the junior highers. Gaga ball and nine square were definitely both a hit for the students and also maybe the counselors... :)
On Saturday afternoon, the chosen service project was making tie lap blankets and bringing them to a local nursing home. Many of the students (and us leaders, myself included,) are not super comfortable talking with elderly people. Fulfilling the theme of the weekend, "Fearless," we got the opportunity to spend time converting and playing games with the residents of the nursing home. Despite our little bit of discomfort, that afternoon was a definite blessing to so many of us.
Saturday night began with supper, worship, a skit, and another speaker. Joshua talked to us about how we are no longer slaves to fear. We saw how we must give God control of our lives. We talked about confessing our sins, and even got the opportunity to witness them being burned away. After this, we had small group time again!
Saturday night was just a blast. Us college students showed the middle schoolers what it means to make a fool of ourselves and absolutely love it. I like to think they absolutely loved it, too. :) We had a talent show where many incredible young people showed us their gifts, followed by a retreat-wide dance party. Enjoy these pictures of us sweaty counselors and kids absolutely loving life. :)
Sunday morning brought with it our final meal together, worship session, skit, and speaker. Kaylee talked about the Holy Spirit and its work in our lives. We met with our small groups one last time and played some games while we waited for parents to come. Us leaders got to enjoy a home-cooked lunch and some final thoughts on the weekend celebrating what we all experienced. :) I am thankful for Dordt's close community and also facebook messenger which have been allowing us to other and campus run into each stay in touch. :) I'm so thankful for this crazy weekend and this crazy amazing bunch. :)