Youth Retreat 2006

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Wow. I have no idea where to begin today. It’s the Monday after an awesome weekend up in the middle of nowhere learning how to go deeper with God. To accurately describe it is impossible. To summarize what went on would hardly do it justice. But, being the faithful blogger that I am, I’ll do my best to do both of those. Just know that whatever I say it was like, it was probably about five to ten times better than that.

On Friday, I had the car, so I drove home after school and got everything ready and packed up. I was prepared to put it all in the car and drive to the church as planned, but Kyle ended up calling me and asking if he could pick me up and help load stuff into the vans. That was fine with me, so I helped him pack up the sound equipment and such. Before too long, we headed off to Camp Ganadoaweh (or something like that) in Ayr. Jordan and I went up with Scott in his car, and the others went in three vans, packed in with all their stuff.

Upon arrival, the sight was much different than I expected. Everything was just…smaller than I thought it would be. The lodge that we rented consisted of basically three rooms: a kitchen about the size of the kitchen at my own house, a lounge area probably about the size of my family room with a bunch of couches, and a general all-purpose room with tables and chairs – about the same size as the lounge room. It was certainly not large at all. There were also a couple other smaller rooms, mainly for storage and such, and a washroom. In another building were three rooms which were the sleeping quarters. I had expected separate cabins, but instead it was three rooms in a row, each with four bunk beds (eight beds in total, in other words). These rooms weren’t all that large either. The lodge was in the middle of three buildings, and on the opposite side of the lodge from the sleeping rooms were the washrooms. These were fully decked out with all the usual washroom facilities, including showers and such. Overall, it wasn’t too bad, but just much different than expected. That’s okay, though. We survived, and had a good time on top of that.

The first order of business after unpacking was, of course, to try and get the small television in the lounge area to work. With the Olympics on, that was a high priority. People bent a coat hanger, and managed to get quite good reception out of it. On top of that, the next order of business was getting supper ready. Some of the girls got right to work making pizza, and so we feasted on that once it was done. Basically, we were killing time until Rick Carroll and his band got there. Eventually, they arrived, and when they did so, they decided that instead of trying to set up all the sound equipment in the tiny room that we had, they would just play a couple acoustic guitars in the lounge area and leave it at that. I got assigned to be the Powerpoint dude for the weekend, and so we had an awesome time worshipping God at our first official service of Retreat. Rick spoke about surrendering what we have to God – our time, our money, and our freedoms. It was great, and it really spoke to me and showed me some things that I needed to figure out.

We hung out for a while, and then eventually moved to our cabins to sleep. Or at least, that’s what was supposed to happen. The guys grabbed a couple tables and some chairs and somehow fit them into our cabin so that they could play poker and other games. It was probably somewhere around 12:30 or 1:00 AM when I tried to start getting to sleep. I was pretty tired, but alas, sleep was just not on the menu that night. A few of the guys decided that they weren’t tired, and so they stayed up almost the whole night. They settled down for a little while, and turned off the lights, and in my head I thought, “Ahh, finally.” They kept talking, however, and eventually they decided to play a game of poker. They also decided to turn on a movie on J.B.’s laptop, which they proceeded to leave running even though no one was watching it. Of course, poker couldn’t be played in the dark, so they decided to turn the lights on again. At that point, I basically gave up on sleeping, because with the noise from the movie and their voices, as well as the light, it was just impossible. I tried drowning them out with my own music from my mp3 player, but it didn’t work too well. Anyways, after a few visits from the girls next door who were angry at them (mainly because they were banging on the walls and such), eventually they quieted down. I suspect that I got about three hours of sleep. Why so little? Well, Kyle had his cell phone alarm set to 6:30 AM, and he thought it was on vibrate – but it wasn’t. Ironically, he slept through it, but woke me up. I stayed in bed for a little while, but eventually abandoned sleeping in favour of getting coffee. Welcome to Day Two. What a great way to start it off.

I got dressed and went to the lodge. I was going to have a shower, but I decided that I’d likely fall asleep while doing that or something, so I decided just to put on lots of deodorant. I probably smelled quite ripe, but I didn’t care too much. I got my cup of coffee, and then sat in the lodge alone for a while. Here I had expected to have some time to talk to God last night, but I ended up having so many distractions and so much noise that concentrating was impossible. So, sitting in the lodge, I tried to do what I had missed out on last night. Unfortunately, concentrating is also next to impossible when running on three hours of sleep. Eventually, people arrived, and so we had breakfast. There were pancakes and waffles, and ham as well. I ended up having about six or seven pancakes, plus a few slices of ham and a bowl of cereal, but I still wasn’t full. Honestly, I never felt full during the whole weekend, even though I ate so much. It was weird. Must have been the fresh mountain air, I guess. Or maybe the fresh Ayr… Sorry. Bad joke. After that, Rick and his cohorts put on a series of seminars for us. They split us into two groups, and then had four seminars altogether. One was on peer pressure, another was on dating relationships, a third was on parents, and the fourth was on dealing with enemies. The whole setting was quite relaxed, and had a lot of participation involved, so it wasn’t just another lecture on “Peer pressure is bad” or anything like that. I actually learned quite a bit, and it gave me lots to think about.

After that was lunch. This consisted of tacos, caesar salad, and other healthy stuff like chips. It was good stuff. Again, I had like three tacos, some salad, and plenty of chips, but I felt like I had only filled myself partway up. Oh well. After that, we had some free time, and then supper. I think that’s how it went, anyway. During free time, most of the guys went out and played football, but I really didn’t feel like doing that. Instead, I played guitar while some of the girls played board games and such. I was tired and I needed some time to think, so I played guitar. Eventually supper came around, and we had noodles, either with tomato sauce or white sauce, and leftover salad. Actually, I’m a little fuzzy on those details. I can’t remember if it was salad or not; all I remember is the pasta. But whatever. After that, we had another service, and that was really the best part of the whole weekend for me. Rick spoke about something which I honestly can’t even remember now, but that really wasn’t the important part. I mean, I remember that what he said was really good, but afterwards, we had plenty of time to pray, and that was exactly what I had been waiting for all weekend. I surrendered my life to God once again, and I prayed for His guidance in my life. I need it so badly right now, since I’m facing a point in my life where decisions need to be made as to the direction of my life.

Eventually, Rick had us pray together for the direction of our church, since he knew that the next day, we had a pastor coming in to preach the call, so it was a pivotal time for us. We prayed around Rick Scicluna, since he’s a board member, and then afterwards, Kim stated that she really wanted the leaders to pray for each of the youth individually. So everyone went and sat back down, and I continued to pray my heart out while they went around to each person, one by one, and prayed for them. When it was my turn, Rick, during one part, spoke out these words: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” It was amazing, because it was exactly what I had been praying for. I had asked God to guide me and show me where I needed to go, and He told me exactly what I needed to do for that to happen. And how do I acknowledge Him in my ways? By doing what Rick had been speaking about: surrendering to God. It all fit in together. It was awesome to see how God wound everything together. He really is amazing.

That night was torturous, really. People played Twister for a while, and Caitlin and I played probably the longest game of Twister ever recorded. It must have been at least twenty to thirty minutes long. I finally won, but both of our arms and legs were shaking from trying to hold ourselves up for so long. Anyways, eventually people went to their cabins and such. Kyle, Jordan, and I had to get up at 6:00 AM, because we needed to leave early, since we were playing at the morning service at church. Kyle had his alarm set, and we were all trying to get to sleep. Unfortunately, the same thing that happened the night before happened again. This time, Caitlin and Natalie came into our room and were talking to the guys for the longest time. I was in my sleeping bag, trying to get to sleep, but again, with the lights on and people talking, it was next to impossible. Eventually the girls left, but then the guys that were still up and awake decided to play a prank on the girls. They were waiting them to go to bed so they could pour water on their doorknob and hopefully freeze it up, so they kept opening and closing the door to our cabin to see if it was safe to go yet. Of course, they never ended up doing it, but that didn’t stop them from turning our lights on and off about a bazillion times. Kyle apparently was the lucky one, basically falling right to sleep as soon as the girls left, but that wasn’t the case with me. People finally kept the lights turned off, but they were still talking and banging the walls and such. Then Kyle’s alarm went off. I just said, “You have got to be kidding me.” J.B. went over to Kyle’s cell phone and looked at it. Fortunately, it was just his mother text messaging him to get the guys to shut up, since she could hear them from two doors down.

Things quieted down after that for the most part, but Kyle G. wouldn’t stop talking. Tired and horribly grumpy, I made some threats saying that if he didn’t shut up, I was going to go over there and rip out his vocal chords. That didn’t seem to work, but I kept groaning quite loudly to hope that he would get the hint. Eventually he said, “Jeff, can I ask you a question.” I said no, but then he said that if I answered it, he would shut up. So I said, “Fine,” and he asked me, “Can you spell Mississippi?” I thought about it for a split second, then said, “No.” He asked me again, and I said, “No, I answered your question, now you have to shut up like you said you would.” That was that. I eventually got to sleep after like another ten minutes, because by that point my eyes hurt from being so tired. I got perhaps another three hours of sleep or so, and then Kyle’s alarm went off. Great.

I flung open my sleeping bag and jumped off the top bunk to turn the alarm off. From then on, it was a simple matter of trying to pack up my stuff in the dark and get ready for a day which I wished didn’t exist – or at least started later. I actually had a shower, and while I was getting my stuff to do that, I realized that I had forgotten to bring a towel. I ended up using my hoodie to dry off (don’t worry, I didn’t wear it afterwards or anything), and then putting on some nice, clean clothes for the Sunday service. I grabbed a pancake, and because I didn’t feel like dirtying a plate, I just put some margarine on it and held onto it to eat it. Eventually I guess I sort of woke up, and then we packed stuff up and left. I think there’s really a point where your body just sort of gives up on being tired and so you get that last burst of energy before you collapse. That’s what I was running off for the morning service. The new guy spoke, and then afterwards, our church members voted. 92% of them voted him in, and so we now have a new senior pastor. Cool. I then went home and took a nice two or three hour nap. Waking up again, I decided that since there was no evening service or youth, that I would go to Central’s youth group instead. People were glad to see me there, and it happened to be the Word of Life people that did a presentation and stuff.

Afterwards, some people went to Kristy’s house. We stayed there for perhaps fifteen minutes before deciding to go somewhere else. Eventually we settled on Tim Horton’s, so everyone went over there and hung out for a while. Erica and Jordan both had to be home by 10:00 PM, so they asked me for a ride, and I said that was fine, since I wasn’t wanting to stay out late anyways. I drove them home, along with Kristy and Angelie as well, and then went home myself. During that car ride, I was actually quite awake. I didn’t even have any coffee at Timmy’s. Again, I think it was that last burst of energy before collapsing on the ground sort of thing. I got home and went to bed, falling asleep within ten minutes. Ahh, yes. Sleep is great.

Of course, today I had to wake up for school, and although it was horribly hard getting out of bed since I was still tired, I did so and managed to make it through the day. It was pretty boring, because most of the people I usually hang out with were on a school trip to the Science Centre. Kristin, Jordan, and Angelie were all gone, so I hung out by Jordan’s locker and talked to Sean and Jess and Rachel’s brother – whatever his name is. Of course, it just so happened that I had a third period spare, so I got some Chemistry homework finished up, and then sat and read Tom Clancy. I must say that spares with Kristin are much more interesting. Actually, spares with anyone else at all to talk to are much more interesting. But anyways, I survived, and I managed to make it through Data Management, doing basically nothing, since we were in the computer lab again, and I was already almost done the assignment anyway.

I guess you could say it’s been an interesting weekend. I mean, it was awesome, and I had a great time. It was also tiring, but I think that’s just unavoidable. In spite of the lack of sleep, God managed to get some stuff through my tired little head, and I have plenty to think about for the next few days. I promised Him that as soon as I get somewhat caught up on my sleep, that I’ll wake up a bit early and have a special time to figure some stuff out with Him. That should be good. But anyways, with all that said, I’m getting quite tired again. So I should probably save my energy and stop typing. Because you know how physically exhausting it is to move your fingers. Boy, oh boy. I’m sweating like a pig. Well, okay, not really, but still – I’m going to finish this off. Fin.

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