I remember, as a Jr. High age youth, going with my youth group from our small church to a retreat at a camp near Gettysburg, PA. As a young teen, I had no idea what a “retreat” was, but I knew I was going away for a weekend with my friends, and that sounded great. I had an awesome time. We played games, got to stay up late and talk, had a campfire, and I think I remember having some serious times as well. I came home fired up and excited about the weekend and my commitment to going to church grew.
I was tired, but it was a good tired. This retreat thing was fun. I wanted to do it again!
Looking back, I can now describe why it was great. I did not understand it then, but now I know a bit of what happened at beautiful Camp Nawakwa.
I had a weekend away from the everyday life and spent a wonderful and growing time with caring adult leaders and my friends. For a weekend I was able to set aside issues from school and home, and get away. My relationship with others grew in a deep way and I grew closer to God. Maybe that is why they call it a retreat. You truly retreat from the everyday to grow in a special way.
Whether it is an event for teens or adults, retreats can be a vital part of growth in your faith. All of us, like Jesus did, need to get away from the everyday once and a while to have an opportunity to grow in our faith. Retreats at a camp or retreat center get you out of your element and puts you in a special place apart. Retreat centers have a mission of providing that place apart. They are usually in beautiful rural locations, and you can feel the peace as you arrive on site.
Retreats can be done alone, or with a group. They can be unstructured, for prayer and meditation, or planned out in every detail with worship, preaching, teaching, fun and fellowship. I have been serving at retreat centers for over 20 years and no two retreats were ever the same. The people involved and God makes each experience special.
I hope you have been on a retreat. If you have, you may understand what I am trying to say in this short article. If you have never been to one, I encourage you to check one out, or plan a retreat for your Sunday School class, youth, entire church, or other organization you are a part of in your life. In today’s connected world, sometimes we need to disconnect. A retreat can help you do just that.
Check out other articles in this blog for retreat planning information. More will be added soon.
Rev. Jess Schload has been the director of the Life Enrichment Retreat Center since 2007. Prior to that he was the Executive Director at Geneva Point Center in New Hampshire and served churches in Pennsylvania and Indiana. He is ordained in the Church of the Brethren and is a Certified Conference Center Professional. He can be reached at 352-787-0313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.