Summer Fun Retreat 2018
August 27, 2018 / By Jan Rothfuss, Co-Chair of the Genesee Valley District Leadership Team
The purpose of the Summer Fun Retreat 2018 was to provide a faith-based camping experience for our city youth who may not have an opportunity to attend a Christian camp. One goal was to help the participants mature in their self-worth and explore models of community that empower the young people to share their faith. By providing a time away from their day-to-day urban environment, the participants interact with peers and counselors in a safe, natural, environment while exploring ways to apply their faith in God to their daily lives.
The idea for this retreat was spawned about two years ago by District Superintendent (DS), the Rev. Vonda Fossitt. The Genesee Valley District Leadership Team accepted the challenge to plan and coordinate the retreat. Of the seven UM congregations contacted two responded – Emmanuel UMC (Hispanic) and Wesley Fragrance of Christ UMC (a New Faith Community of African American members). A total of 14 kids and five adults participated in the retreat held at the Asbury Camp and Retreat Center (Asbury CRC) from Aug. 12-Aug. 15.
The facility was perfect and director Sue Russell and her staff were amazing. They created an honest, caring, and Christ-based environment. Their witness served as solid models for the young Christians to follow.
On the last day of the retreat the kids each completed a Participation Evaluation. When asked “What was the best part?” the answers included “swimming, boating and the Snack Shack.” Others included “archery and arts and crafts”, “going fishing”, and “Bible study.” One participant simply answered, “I liked everything!” Another shared that “the best part was making new friends.” Also noted was “Learning about God was fun.”
When asked “Did you learn something new?” the kids responded, “I learned new songs”, “Archery”, “Glow-in-the-Dark Soccer”, “I learned how to fish.” Two shared that they “learned more about God” and another recorded learning that “God will change your life.”
When prompted to add anything else about their time at the Summer Fun Retreat comments recorded included “A fun place and I really liked the people that worked here”, “Liked when we had the campfire…and loved the food” and “It was amazing, and I loved it.”
Naomi Hartnagel, Assistant Director at Asbury CRC provided the following: “The kids seemed to really enjoy the retreat. Asbury’s staff enjoyed working alongside of the Adult leaders to provide a quality retreat experience for the kids. We all enjoyed working together as everyone wanted to participate in all activities, especially in worshiping our Savior. One of our staff members said the kids were very receptive to the teachings and the retreat was a great opportunity for the kids to ask harder questions and learn more about Jesus.”
Sue submitted, “We enjoyed hosting you and hope you and the students had an enriching experience. I felt our Asbury staff invested well in your participants!”
Rev. Fossitt concluded, “The retreat was good and kids enjoyed nature, learning about Christ,and clean fun.”
The District Leadership Team worked very hard to pull the retreat together. Even though the group was small (seven boys and seven girls), it resulted in a successful event. As one of the adult volunteer counselors I can report that I witnessed the growth of some young Christians. I only hope that they reflect on what they learned and share it with others in their families.