The theme of this year’s Spring Youth Retreat was “Stories.” While retreating in the gorgeous Black Forest, we spent our time focused on learning what it means to co-create our own stories with God, mostly by learning from each other. I had a great time building new and old relationships with other leaders and students across the UCC Rocky Mountain Conference. But on the first night, the camp staff reminded the adult leaders that the weekend was all about the campers first. So with that spirit in mind, I interviewed one of our students for this week’s reflection. I hope you enjoy this perspective as much as I did.
Q: What do you want the church to know about the retreat?
A: The retreat was so fun and super inclusive. The community and environment was so accepting, and it just felt like one big family. I made new connections right away! I honestly would love to go back.
Q: What did you learn?
A: The stories shared really gave a different perspective as well. it helped me learn that everyone comes from a different background, but they grow and change.
Q: At Plymouth, we call some spiritual or Divine experiences “God sightings.” Did you have any “God sightings” this weekend?
A: There was a moment in the chapel when stories were being shared where I genuinely felt the Divine’s/God’s presence. It was very powerful. It was almost like God was being shown through the stories, which made me feel like He was watching and giving people the courage to share their story.
Q: Traditionally at La Foret, the older students lead all the younger students in a processional towards the chapel for worship. It’s a deeply reverent walk around the whole campground. Students were carrying flashlights and singing old hymns. What was it like for you to help lead the processional?
A: It felt like one big family/community just genuinely connecting with God as well as each other. God’s presence was shown through the songs and connections. It’s hard to explain, but in a way it felt like everyone was at peace, and everyone was thankful to be able to connect with God through each other.
Q: What is one big idea you’re taking away from the retreat?
A: It is really easy to assume someone’s background story just by looking at them. And even though this is a very human thing to do, that doesn’t make it right. Everyone comes from a different background, but in the end we can always find support through each other and God. Community is very important. If you find one that’s accepting and inclusive, it’s the easiest to find God through it because it opens your eyes and makes you feel like you can have these connections without feeling judged. Instead of assuming, ask questions. It’s important to ask questions within someone’s comfort zone because it can help you really understand them better without assuming where they come from.
Brooklyn is Plymouth's Director of Christian Formation for Children & Youth. Brooklyn has served in local church and student ministries for the past several years. A native of northern Colorado, Brooklyn has professional experience leading in worship, youth, and children’s programs. Read her full bio here.