Our senses are heightened when we step away for retreat. We wait in anxious expectation of sounds, smells, and sights which are different than our everyday. It reminds me of Abram called by God from his land of Ur (usual routine.) But it’s the people that we meet while away that stick in my memory most.
At the 5th grade Rock Solid Retreat on the beautiful campus of Camp Glisson, our students are prepared through workshop and practices for their next season as they transition not only from elementary to middle school, but also from children’s ministry to youth/student ministry. The connections with mine and other’s kids are different, slower, deeper, funnier. The connections are just….more.
One of the great delights of retreat is connecting with other champions of children’s ministry. As we walk outside, wake up to Mandisa’s “Good Morning” in the girl’s cabin, and take fantastic meals ‘family style’ with others, I get to hear their stories. Stories of their journey to director of children’s ministry at their church. Stories of how a student has overcome life challenges. Stories of exciting family events coming up. Stories of clarity for what one will do next year. Stories of grandparents who used to come to Camp Glisson so many years ago. Oh, the testimonies of old and new friends in the Lord.
This time we were invited to travel with a church we often partner with for special events like Splish Splash and Winter Ball. Our kids and chaperones make deep connections with hers. I’m the last one down at night in our cabin to be sure everyone is snoozing. She’s the first one up to take them hiking in the falls before breakfast. She brings cookies. I bring a wireless speaker for cabin dance parties. A chaperone from the third church represented in our cabin was a hairdresser. There was a line of 5th grade girls chatting and laughing waiting to get their hair braided.
There is so much more to an away retreat than curriculum and food…though both were fabulous. When I go on retreat, I seek out those I already know and see only online for a hug, a cup of tea, a conversation. When I go on retreat, I especially seek out those new-to-me. I ask a couple of questions. I make a new friend. I hear testimonies of champions. I hear how God is alive and active in their calling. I hear of challenges and celebrations. I hear delights and sighs and laughter. It feeds me and helps me to grow in my ‘champion-ness.’ What are you doing to build connection with other champions?
“There are essentially two things that will change your life – the books you read and the people you meet.” – Charles Tremendous Jones
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17