Although there was no Northwest Youth Camp this year, the Portland young people did have the opportunity to go on a four-day youth retreat at the location where we normally hold youth camp—the Mayfield Lake campsite near Mossy Rock, Washington. A bus of young people left Portland shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 28, and several others drove separately. Once everyone had arrived, there were around seventy campers and close to thirty staff. And after missing youth camp in 2020, everyone was very excited for this chance to go to the retreat!
During the long weekend, there were a variety of recreational activities for people to enjoy. Swimming in the lake was very popular, especially when a fire truck was brought in to help with a water fight! Campers also had fun going down the giant water slide, playing games, and participating in tournaments for volleyball, pickle ball, spike ball, and ping pong.
The group was also spoiled with delicious food during the retreat. Some of the highlights were BBQ pulled pork, pizza, pancakes, and French toast. The desserts were just as good, including the famous camp meeting raspberry dessert and fried Oreos and Twinkies! The kitchen staff went above and beyond to keep everyone happy at meal time.
A big part of every youth retreat is the chapel services, and this year they were conducted very similarly to youth camp services. Each service included well-known youth camp and Sunday school songs followed by a chance for people to give their testimonies. One night, Mackenzie Ewers testified about when she received the baptism of the Holy Ghost at youth camp a few years ago. Marcus Luka also testified that he received his baptism at youth camp in 2019. On Sunday morning, Josh Friesen testified about how the Lord sanctified him at the retreat this year.
A unique feature of the chapel services this year was time for a group activity. During one service, the audience was split into small groups and raced to put about thirty different Bible events into chronological order. The teams grabbed their Bibles and went to work, and the staff mentioned afterward how impressed they were by the campers’ Bible knowledge. Another activity was a boys vs. girls round of Bible charades, with staff acting out various Bible characters. The girls were very pleased with their victory over the boys!
Throughout the weekend, a theme among the sermons was that the Lord is able to keep a person even after he or she goes home from the youth retreat. On the first night, Erik Calhoun spoke about the effect of the pandemic, which caused many to feel isolated, anxious, or depressed. He reminded the group of the hope every Christian has to live in Heaven one day, and talked about how Jesus is returning soon and each one must be ready for that day. Another message from Roth Mom encouraged everyone to place his or her trust in God, rather than in material things or devices of this world.
Saturday night was awards night, filled with entertaining games and prizes for those who had won tournaments over the past three days. The competitions included intense matches in a push-up contest, musical chairs, and rock-paper-scissors. A plate of brownies was even awarded to the cabin that collected the most garbage on litter patrol—the youngest girls’ cabin! Due to a fire ban, there was no bonfire this year, but after the awards ceremonies, everyone enjoyed pizza and other snacks before heading to bed.
One more chapel service was held Sunday morning to conclude the retreat. At the end of the weekend, there were reports of at least two saved and one sanctified. One person commented there was a thoughtful and reflective attitude shown by many of the campers, and a sense of unity felt among the group, especially during the chapel services. The youth retreat proved to be a great opportunity for everyone to get away from their day-to-day routine and focus on the things of God. The campers and staff returned home tired, but spiritually refreshed and encouraged.