The Grace Students of Grace Community Church went on their semi-annual retreat to NorthBay Camp in North East, MD, over the weekend. It was a wonderful opportunity for the Grace Students to get away for the weekend, grow in their walk with Christ, and bond with each other. This was my daughter's sixth retreat and she had a fantastic time, and she came away with an emotional and spiritual high.
For me, it was an opportunity to once again support the students by assisting on the Kitchen Crew, which prepares and serves the meals for the almost 400 students and leaders. Now that I've done this for the past three years, I guess I'm looked at as one of the more experienced volunteers, and I've found myself leading a small crew in the dish pit for the fourth straight retreat. The only downside to working in the dish pit is the impact it has on my body. I'm just not young enough, nor in shape enough, to put that kind of stress on my body, unfortunately.
A year ago, I messed up my back during the retreat weekend, and I missed several days of work after returning home. Last Fall, I had surgery four days before the retreat, and while the doctor told me to take it easy for two weeks, I still ended up working in the dish pit, and I got in trouble with my doctor when I went in for my follow-up appointment to have my sutures removed for not following Doctor's Orders. For the retreat this past weekend, there were again not enough volunteers to help in the dish pit, so I found myself volunteering there again, despite my making a deal with my body not to do it. And, unfortunately, I paid for it. I injured my back again, and am currently recovering from the stresses I put on it.
NorthBay is fine camp. There are a bunch of cabins for the students and their leaders, while the volunteers get to stay in the main lodge. I'll note that the lodge does not necessarily have the finest sleeping accommodations. The wooden bunks and worn out mattresses are not at all comfortable, and the bunks are made for bodies shorter than 6 feet tall. I'm a little over that, and the bunk just doesn't allow a body to stretch out. It's not made for someone my size, so I don't usually sleep very well.
I'm not complaining. If I didn't want to volunteer, I wouldn't do it. I'm just disappointed in myself for not being in better shape for the type of work required. I love serving, and this is the best way I can think of to support the youth and the leaders. There are aspects of the weekend that are a lot of fun. There are some fantastic messages by the youth pastors, David and Ryan, and the music is inspiring. It's also a lot of fun to watch the shaving cream battle on the beach. The kids love it, despite getting covered head to toe in white lather, and it was pretty cold on Saturday afternoon, too. The camp at NorthBay has plenty of activities, and everyone who attends comes away feeling a bond with one another that only comes through the love of Christ.
The church youth group that I attended while growing up during my teen years also went on an annual retreat, and I continued going on retreats during my ten years as a youth counselor. They are such wonderful experiences, and I'm so happy that my daughter is able to have the same kinds of experiences. It really is a great weekend.
I guess I'll have to use this as motivation to get myself in better shape, since I have at least four more years of retreats to get through. In the meantime, I'm continuing to heavily medicate my body to ease the pain in my back.
Have a great evening, everyone.