building relationships pt. 2 Youth Leaders (Winter Retreat Recap)

I never expected this recap to become three parts. I always planned for it to only be two, but when I began to write the second installment I just had so many words begin to pour out of my heart. 
I think this winter retreat caused me to do a lot of self-reflection. Yes I learned more about preaching and I gained new experience from the weekend. However I also gained new love and respect for both my friends from youth group and my old youth leaders.
On the last night I stayed up until 11 with some of the middle school girls while we sat by this beautiful bonfire.
Last week I wrote about my friends from youth group and how I saw us in the grade six girls I stayed with during winter retreat.
This week I want to reflect on youth leaders and not only why I’m forever grateful for mine but I also want to reflect on how I hope and aspire to impact the grade six girls lives like my youth leaders did for me.
Before reading if you have not read last weeks blog you should do that now! You can find it here! Also if you’re interested you can find the first blog about my winter retreat experience here.
So now that you’ve read it you know a little about my weekend with the middle school girls let me tell you that the best part of Winter Retreat 2017 for me was getting to know and grow closer the grade six girls.
 
This is only 3 of the 11 girls I got to hang out with during Winter Retreat. This was a picture for our photo scavenger hunt.
A bit of back-story:
Before I went away for school in 2015 I used to teach a grade 5 Sunday school class and I was a middle school youth leader (I love middle schoolers they are the best!).  So most of the youth at winter retreat I had either had in my Sunday school class or I was their leader when they were in middle school.
The only youth I really didn’t know was the grade six kids. I mean I knew them but I didn’t really know them well. I remember when they were babies and I remember when their families started coming to the church but I didn’t have a personal relationship with any of them.
My weekend at Winter Retreat changed that and I am so blessed because of it.
When I was a youth I was very fortunate to have had amazing youth leaders.
My youth leaders played the roles of a best friend, a loving parent, a sibling, a confidant, a teacher, a mentor, and a role model all in one.
Even though they had their own families and many other things to, they still took the time to invest in my life and my spiritual growth.
I remember when I was in middle school; my Sunday school class was a girl’s only class with about 6 of us in it. With such a small class and it being only girls, we were able to really get to know our teacher and talk about real stuff.
Every year we would have a middle school girl’s sleep over at our Sunday school teacher’s house and it was one of my favourite times of the year.
It was a time of fellowship for us girls and a time for our teacher to show us love and hospitality by inviting us into her home.
I give so much credit for who I am today to my youth leaders. I am so fortunate to have had many different men and women invest in me during my youth.
Although all of my leaders are amazing and have impacted my spiritual growth, there are two women who deserve special recognition. Even after my graduation these ladies have continued to help me grow, they check in on my regularly and even though I am no longer their youth, I still feel 100% comfortable to talk to them about anything and everything.*
When I think about my future as a youth leader, I hope and aspire to be like the leaders that have impacted me. I want to show my youth love and support and build a strong trusting relationship with the youth.
Now back to winter retreat …
When I was hanging out and leading the grade six girls a few weeks ago, I could feel God was tugging on my heart to tell me to keep these girls in my mind. I need to keep praying for them and stay in touch with them so that I can, like my leaders before me, invest into their lives and help them grow into young women of God.
I don’t know what it is but there is just something about these girls, maybe it’s because I see myself in them or maybe it’s because I have seen some of them grow up from babies to middle schoolers, but I just want to get to know and I want to minister to them.
 
One of the middle school girls watching the fireworks. I thought it was a cool candid so I had to add it!
By the end of the weekend I was thinking “I need to go home and start teaching a girls middle school Sunday school class so I can keep pouring into their lives!”
I continue to pray for the girls, I hope to stay in touch with them, and when summer comes (if I work at my church again) I want to plan a middle school girl’s night so I can continue to get to know them.
So I hope by this time next year I can be their Sunday school teacher and I hope to have built up stronger relationships so I can be to them what my leaders were to me.
That’s it for my Winter Retreat posts I hope you enjoyed them and as always, 
 
Thanks for reading,
Em

*Renee and Susan I love you guys!! Thank you for all you’ve done
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