As I woke up Thursday morning in my cold bunk at Camp Shiloh, after just a few fitful hours of sleep, I had to ask myself, “Why do we do this?” Or, “Why do I do this?” And, “Isn’t just staying home on campus and doing normal schooling good enough?” I rolled over in my sleeping bag, found the alarm that was waking me up, and prepared myself for the day, a bit of a walk up Mount Washington.
I ambled down the stairs to the dining room, got that first cup of elixir, and then came to my senses. Soon, my team of trusted colleagues joined me at the fountain, and together, we embraced the day ahead, and reminded ourselves of what this is all about, regardless of how much sleep we did or didn’t achieve. The half-awake cherubs began to file down into the dining hall, some with packs on and smiles to give, others not yet awake or ready for the big climb.
The Fall Mountain Retreat is dedicated time each fall since our first trip in 1992 when we focus on spiritual and relational growth. We know from our own experiences, as well as what we hear from our Seniors on the graduation podium and our Alumni, that the FMR creates deep, lasting, lifelong friendships and memories. A main outcome is always profound personal growth, in faith commitment and community strength. And, the FMR brings students from all walks of life out into God’s great Creation to experience things beyond the confines of the classroom.
This year’s retreat speaker was from our Hall of Fame collection, Pastor Dave Denis from United Baptist Church in Concord. He led three outstanding challenges to our young people on the “Theology of Work”. Dave challenged all to realize what it means to be created in God’s image, and to be a Cultivator of a Garden that He has designed for us. After Communion and a time of Solo on the Mountain, Dave brought it home with the concept of “Calling” in our lives – the source of true vocational fulfillment.
Friday, as I drove my van of sleepy Retreaters back to the south, back into their everyday lives, I thanked God for His provision of yet another awesome retreat experience. After a shower, a home cooked meal, a good night’s rest and a reacclimating to home, I said, “Thank you God; let’s do this again next year.”