by Brian Robertson, Pastor of Student Ministries
Why are retreats important for young people?
I was recently talking with one of our students. She was remembering the years in middle school, and we began to talk about the upcoming winter retreat called “Winter Wipeout.” It was fun. We talked about the goofy games, the worship, the snow tube run, the friends, and the cabin devos. We laughed at the good memories, and she mentioned how bummed she was that her little sister had a scheduling conflict this year and wouldn’t be able to attend. She went on to say that some of the best memories from her middle school years came from that simple weekend retreat to the snow.
This coming February, we will be taking young people again to the retreat. Middle school camp (Winter Wipeout) is Feb 4-6 and high school camp (Elevation) is Feb 25-27. And as both camps get closer and closer, I thought I’d share a few reasons why camp is an important aspect of young people’s lives.
(1) ADVENTURE. Young people have a heightened ability to experience and enjoy adventure. Too often the stress of school, sports, and responsibilities can begin to weigh them down. It is good for them to simply have fun and experience a little adventure in their life.
(2) GOOFY SKITS/GAMES. Yup, chances are at camp you will experience one or two goofy skits or games. There will be times of laughing where we laugh so much that it hurts and we almost wet ourselves! It is good to laugh together.
(3) FOOD. Everyone will be treated to a 4-star dining experience served on the finest china. OK, so it’s camp and not a high-end restaurant, but both for the middle school and high school the food is actually good — believe me, it could be a LOT worse!
(4) MENTORING. The best way mentoring relationships happen is by simply being with the person you are hoping to be mentored by. Our goal is that each student at Oak Hills would have an opportunity to be in a mentoring relationship. Sunday services and weekly youth group are great, but there is just something about the cumulative effect of camp (eating, sleeping, playing, and laughing together) that makes mentorship really possible.
(5) ENCOURAGEMENT. Teenage (and pre-teen) years are notorious for feeling alone. It is important for all of us — teens especially — to be reminded that you are not alone in this life, and you are not the only one seeking to follow Jesus. There’s something encouraging that takes place at these camps.
(6) NICKNAMES. Camps often are the breeding ground for good material in the giving of nicknames. Some of our favorite names came from camp/retreat experiences — Wizz, Decaf, Peaches, Deuce, Netty, Barbie, Lafonda, Dirt, Perfs, and Pampers (though, we don’t really call him “pampers” anymore).
(7) CAMP SONGS. No camp would be complete without fun camp songs — sometimes referred to as “silly songs” but more appropriately called Dumb Songs. Yes, they are! Dumb as they are, they are really fun and a camp staple!
So, if that isn’t enough encouragement for your student to come to camp with us, let me remind you of the conversation I had earlier this week. This young woman is continuing to grow in her relationship with God and her passion for the things of God and points to camp as instrumental in her pursuit of God.
Both camps are coming up quickly, but there is still time to register! Middle school camp (Feb 4-6) is $195. High school camp (Feb 25-27) is $180 if you register by yourself or $165 if you register with a guest/friend. Flyers are available at the Welcome Center in the lobby or by hitting the links below.