Post by: Katie Brazeal As Fellows, one of our responsibilities is to be involved in Trinity Presbyterian Church’s youth group. Each fellow is assigned to a different age group and gender. For example, I have the opportunity to spend this year with the 10th grade girls.
Normally this role is played out on Sundays. Sunday morning during the Sunday school hour we have Student Breakfast with the kids. This entails feeding them cereal (and pancakes once a month!) and studying the Bible together. On Sunday evenings, we come back together with the kids for D-Groups. At this time, we play games, eat dinner together, and once again dig into the Bible.
As wonderful as Sundays are, we had an even more wonderful experience with the kids over the last weekend in September: FALL RETREATS!
MODGNIK • Modgnik is the middle-school retreat (6th-8th grades) held at Rockbridge, a YoungLife camp about an hour and a half outside of Charlottesville.
In the words of Elizabeth Sumrall, the 8th grade girls’ Fellow…
MODGNIK (Kingdom spelled backwards) is a gathering of over 600 middle schoolers and their leaders from over 20 churches around area. The three day long retreat offers an awesome combination of teaching time, small groups, and plenty of fun and recreation! Before we went, we had heard that Rockbridge was awesome, and it certainly lived up to those claims. Surrounded by mountains, the camp offers virtually every activity you can dream of - rock wall, thriller swing, water slides, basketball courts, volleyball courts and a ropes course in the woods.
It was so amazing to see the leaders building close relationships with their kids - going on crazy swing rides, swimming, and playing soccer. Early mornings (and I do mean early; some of our kids were up as early as 6:30 a.m.) and late evenings were special times for hanging out in our cabins with our individual D-Groups. The boys spent their times having pillow fights while the girls had nail painting parties and signed t-shirts.
In addition to the fun and games was the incredible group teaching times. Shawn Slate, the RUF minister at UVa, was the weekend speaker. He spoke from Revelation and in the most amazing way made what is usually considered to be a very hard book of the Bible very real and relevant to middle schoolers. He encouraged them to see Revelation as a story that God wants to draw them into, a story that He wants them to be excited to be a part of. Slate challenged them to see the picture Revelation paints of Jesus and to learn what it means to fall in love with Him.
At the end of the day, that is what this is all really about. The goal of student ministry is to help the kids to love Jesus more. I know that the hope of all of the Fellows is that this fantastically fun weekend was a tool to build bridges into these students lives that will enable them to learn more about what that really looks like in the weeks and months to come.
MOUNTAIN WEEKEND • Mountain Weekend (or Mountain Day as some of the kids were fondly referring to it as because we were gone for a grand total of 24 hours) is the fall retreat for the high schoolers, 9th-12th grades.
In comparison to Rockbridge, we were roughing it on Mountain Weekend. We camped on a farm about 20 minutes outside of Charlottesville. We slept in tents, used the restroom in port-a-potties, and cooked our food over a fire. (Okay, that last part is an exaggeration. We actually had a lot of delicious home cooked food.) Regardless we were out in the elements, all of them: hot sunshine, cold rain and everything in between.
The kids played a variety of games throughout the weekend. We started off the fun with a “speed-dating” (also referred to as speed-friendship) game to break the ice. Then there were some very competitive rounds of the appropriately named Ball Game. In the dark, we played Body Body, an interactive version of Mafia. Not to be overshadowed by the games, we had a square dance called by the weekend speaker, John Gayle. This was complete with flannel, boots and live music!
And although the weekend truly was fun-filled thanks to the games and fanfare, we also had some wonderful times of worship and learning, which was indeed the reason we were there. John Gayle spoke to the kids (and counselors) about our relationship with God and what that should look like. He gave examples of successes and failures from the Bible. In our D-Group time, the 10th grade girls specifically worked through what the Lord is doing currently in their lives and why he had brought them on Mountain Weekend.
Overall, I believe that the retreats were a huge success! It gave us as Fellows the needed opportunity to spend quality time with our kids and to simply get to know them. It is exciting to look at the year ahead and to think of all the Lord will accomplish!
To see the video the Fellows made for the youth group to get them excited about the retreats, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?