building relationships pt. 1 Youth Group Friendships (Winter Retreat Recap)

I love working with youth!
If you’ve been following my blogs you probably know that by now.
This is another Winter Retreat recap. The first recap from Winter Retreat where I talk about my preaching experience can be found here and you can check out a bit more about Winter Retreat here and here.
How about I take you back two weeks when I first arrived at Winter Retreat…
 
It’s the first night of Winter Retreat; I’m told I am in cabin El-Shaddai. I get to the cabin and it’s quiet, no one is in there so I am yet to know who will be my bunk buddies.
I do notice that almost all the bunks are covered (and therefore already claimed).
“No bottom bunk for me” I think to myself as I throw my stuff up and climb onto a top bunk basically in the middle of the room.
As I’m sitting on my bunk, making my bed when all of a sudden the door opens and one after one six grade 6 girls start filing in, followed by two other grade 6 girls and their families.
I’m not going to lie I just started laughing because who wouldn’t?
I was slowly starting to realize that I was in for a fun weekend with very little sleep.
We didn’t get much sleep at all, we went to bed by midnight but on Saturday morning the first girls were up at chatting by 4:30am with the official lights on at 6:30 and Sunday morning we were all up by 7:30am – not as bad but still early!
Now let me tell you that, in my time as a youth, my relationships with my youth leaders and my friends was what made my time memorable and what helped me grow as a young Christian woman.

The friends I met in youth group are my best friends and they continue to by my support system today.

It’s never a dull moment with us. We are such goofballs!

 

Me, Deveney, Olivia, and Hannah

I also love my youth leaders; I’m still close with them today as they continue to pour into my life.

This is a picture with two of my youth leaders Renee and Susan (and her daughter Talia) at my prom. I have so much love for these women and their impact in my life!!
So this blog is going to go in two directions and will most likely be in two parts. This week I want to tell you about my experience of spending the weekend with about 10 middle school girls and how by watching the friendship between these girls grow I was reminded how important youth group friendship are. Next week, in part 2, I’m going to be writing about the importance of youth leaders, the result of spending the weekend with the middle school girls, and the impact I hope to make in these girls’ lives.
* * * *
Saturday afternoon was quiet time with God. Everyone was supposed to go off on their own and spend time reading the Bible or praying a classic (and important) Winter Retreat tradition. We even had different prayer and worship stations set up for those who were struggling.
I noticed right away that all my girls immediately disappeared.  So I went to my cabin. I was expecting some of them to have difficulty with this quiet time; I remember my grade six self during quiet time at my first winter retreat, it felt like it was going to last forever!  
As I expected when I got to the cabin some of the girls were chatting so I reminded them that it was quiet time and Annaliese (one of the grade 8 girls) said, “We know we are all doing our own Bible time and then we are going to do a prayer circle and all pray for each other.”
When she said this my heart just burst! It was such a joy to see her leading the younger girls. When it came time for us all to pray I was on the verge of happy tears as I listened to the girls pray for one another. It brings me so much happiness to see my younger sisters in Christ pray for and support each other.
This moment was probably one of the highlights of my week.
 
* * * *
When I was back at my apartment reflecting on the weekend I thought of all the girls I stayed with. They are all friends and even though they are only young, they have such a sisterly love for each other and I am so excited for the lifelong friendship that they will have.
I was reminded of my own friends from youth group and I wished that I had told those girls to cherish their friendships because those youth group friendships are the friendships that are going to help you get through life.
 

My friends and I have been through so much; from boys and breakups to jobs and schools to sickness and family troubles. We pray for each other and we talk almost daily. We are more than just friends because of our same love for Jesus. He has made us all sisters and that is something I constantly thank him for.
 
I LOVE THESE GIRLS!

 

Be sure to check in next week for part 2 of the building relationships post and thanks for reading, 
 
Em
 
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