So this past weekend is definitely one for the books. I had the privilege to be a leader with my church’s high school youth group. They had planned a Memorial Day Weekend trip to eastern Washington for white water rafting and camping. And let me tell you, it was quite the weekend to be sure! I figured I would outline the weekend, so you can better get an idea of everything that we did.
Saturday Am: Our group, consisting of approximately 40 students and leaders, met at the church at 8:30 AM. Miraculously, everyone was fairly on time, and how often does that happen? We packed up cars and trucks with tents, backs, coolers and other camping paraphernalia. After some quick instructions and prayer, it was time to hit the open road. I was one of the drivers, and my friend Kasey (also one of the youth group leaders with me) rode shotgun. We had a very enjoyable drive and spent the time talking about all sorts of different things and people. From Bothell it was straight to US 2 and up an over Steven’s Pass. We had a brief stop in Leavenworth for lunch (unfortunately no brats on this trip) before continuing our trip through Wenatchee and north to our destination: Alta Lake Camp Ground.
Saturday Afternoon: Everyone rolled into the camp group around 1:00 and we started setting up camp. With so many people helping out, it did not take long at all to get all our tents up and mock-kitchen area established. Then we were all off to enjoy the afternoon. We spent some time talking about the weekend ahead, but we all really just wanted to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather…did I mention it was 75°? A group of us went down to the lake and had a good time just relaxing on the beach. Several people went swimming, and I opted for a nap on the beach. It was such a relaxing afternoon, and definitely needed. I knew it was the start of something great and refreshing. I spent some time praying over the weekend, hoping God would move in the hearts and minds of all of us, especially the students.
Saturday Evening: A couple of us volunteered to make dinner on Saturday, and it was lots of fun. We all worked hard to prepare a taco dinner for 40 people, and I must say that it turned out great!
We sat around the campsite, eating and enjoying getting to hang out with new friends. After dinner we had a great devotional time with words from our youth pastor, Dawn. She is such a great leader and speaker, and I always enjoy hearing her give a good word. After she spoke, Dawn gave us an hour for personal devotional time. This was such a key component of the weekend, and one that I had been looking forward to. A couple of us went back to the beach and enjoyed the time in God’s Word while watching the sunset and nighttime fall around us. We all reconvened at the campsite and spent time sharing and praying with each other. After that, it was time to relax around camp and just enjoy camping. Several people stayed up late around the campfire, and I spent some more quiet time at the beach…it was great to be away from distractions and have a couple hours to think, pray and write.
Sunday Morning: I woke up to a beautiful morning on Sunday, perfect to spend a little time with Jesus and enjoy the peaceful morning. We had a great breakfast and a devotional time focused on learning about what it means to be a disciple. After a personal devotional, it was time to get ready for the central activity of the weekend: white water rafting!!
Braving the River: After changing into swim wear and gathering together, we drove to meet up with the rafting company at the nearby river. They were all great and helped us get the rest of our gear together before pilling us onto a bus and heading north. Once we were at the launch site, we divided up into the different boats. My team, which just happened to be the best, consisted of myself, Caroline, Elizabeth, Dane, Kevin and Andrew and was led by our guide, Michelle. Our boat was the front runner, we launched from the beach and were soon far ahead of everyone else. From there it was 13 miles of fun. From going in huge holes, getting splashed and soaked, to just having a great time with each other. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and there was always something new to see. We worked extremely well as a team and I was so proud of each of the students. At one point, I intentionally jumped in the river and floated along the raft for a bit…while the water was super cold, it was also very refreshing…Caroline managed to pull me up, back out of the water! We had fun drifting and laughing and I know we all wished it would have kept going. When we were back in sight of our cars, I jumped out again and spent the remainder of the time floating, and sometimes walking on the bottom, from boat to boat. What a grand adventure!
Sunday Evening: By the time we got back to camp, we were too tired to do much of anything. I went down to the lake with some of the students and enjoyed getting to hang out with them and relive various parts of the rafting trip…there were so many great stories! We had a yummy dinner once again and spent the remainder of the evening having devotional time, listening to the wise words of Pat, sharing about our lives, praying for each other, and of course eating s’mores. I slept so well that night.
Monday: We were all much slower to wake up on Monday, but we all managed it and worked together to make another great meal. After I shared the morning devotional (I talked about the importance of taking retreats and showing that even Jesus did during His ministry time) we again had individual devotional time. We worked together to clean up camp, and a group of people went for a late morning hike. I opted to relax back at camp and just enjoy the last little bit of peace and quiet. Once everyone was back we had a huge lunch, consisting of everything left over, and finished packing. My car was full once again, and Kasey and I jumped in and hit the road for home. We again talked about so many different things, mainly about the weekend and different things that had happened in both of our lives over the past three days. We hit traffic but were not worried about it, aside from the desire to visit a restroom. We met up with everyone at a pizza place in Monroe and enjoyed one last meal together. Then it was the final push to the church and ultimately to home.
Now that I am back to “real life” I know I will be reflecting on my time at Alta Lake. Here are a couple personal takes-a-ways from my time on a much needed retreat:
- Retreats are not necessarily a break from what is going on in life. Rather, it is a break from the noise of life, and an opportunity to focus on God and His plan for our lives. Retreats are a great place to turn over issues and situations to God and seek out His help and guidance.
- People of all ages have something worth saying, just take a moment to listen and do not just discount them on account of their age. While high schoolers seem inattentive or disinterested at times, give them time to think through things and formulate thoughts, the results may just surprise you! The high schoolers on this trip were just great all around.
- Whitewater rafting is great.
What a trip…what a weekend…one naught to be forgot.