One the benchmarks of the fall in college ministry is reaching Fall Retreat – it usually marks the end of the first 6-8 weeks on campus and is a great connection point for old and new students to hear solid Bible teaching, experience community, and just get away during the Fall Semester.
This past weekend, we traveled to New Jersey to join the rest of the NYC campus teams and the NJ campus teams at Fall Retreat. We had 6 students join us specifically from St. Johns and Queens College (we would have had more from St. Johns if it hadn’t been the same weekend as homecoming when many of our students were required to stay – and athletes were in season and couldn’t come). Here is a picture of our trip out of the city (love the view but don’t love the traffic!) and their trip riding together in a rental van driven by one of our staff ladies.
We traveled to Camp Tecumseh for the weekend, which was filled with lots of green open space, lots of trees and woods, and lots of deer (even little baby ones!). And lots of bugs :). It is always so refreshing for us to get out of the city.
We brought in a speaker named Tyrone who shared his life story and also more about what Jesus has been teaching him, we had seminars from everything from “How To Know God Personally” to “time management” to “authentic community”. We had mens and womens times where we had fun but also got to hear super wise staff women share from their hearts and answer questions from student women (see second pic below). We had a bonfire, talent show, and lots of free time to just enjoy the camp and each other.
The best part about it? Our kids getting to live life alongside college students who love Jesus and want to grow in their faith and impact the world. Our kids seriously soak it up.
Following the lead of another staff family from NYC who has older kids, we bought walkie talkies and let our girls go exploring with friends, students, and each other, checking in with them through our walkie talkie. They absolutely LOVED the freedom, which is something they don’t get in the city, but that we feel is absolutely vital to them growing up and maturing and establishing independence. Blake wished he was old enough to go with them, but because he isn’t quite there, he loved holding on to our end of the walkie talkies and communicating with the girls that way. And what happened when he wanted to talk to staff and students but had his hands full with his walkie talkie? Just clip on his back pocket, of course.
All in all, it was a great weekend. We heard great things from our students, from “I realized that I should put my phone on airplane mode when I read the Bible so I am not distracted – I didn’t even know I could do that” to “I always thought Christianity was for white people but this weekend, I realized it is for me” to “I loved being able to fellowship with students from all over the world who are living in NJ and NY and I got to see Cru as being a community in different places around the world that are all passionate about Christ.” Pray that God continues to teach them so many things now that they are back in NYC!!