Over 140 young people and staff from a number of our churches around the northwest part of the United States gathered at Kellogg Springs Camp in Oakland, Oregon, for the 2023 youth retreat. The theme of the weekend was “Celebrate Jesus,” and the group studied Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians in a series of four sessions, as well as a chapel service.
The Friday night session began with an introduction to the theme verses, which was “Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). Throughout the weekend, a speaker would say, “Stand,” and the group would reply, “Fast,” and the back and forth would continue through the verse. It was an attention-getter and a memorization tool.
Randy and Ashley Lee, from Medford, Oregon, led a skit to demonstrate the value of the fellowship of the saints. A volunteer, Elias Trotter, from Chehalis, came up and had bungee cords attached to his arms and legs. More enthusiastic volunteers held the other end of the cords and were given labels of things Christians contend with, like peer pressure, social expectations, and school. Elias tried to move as the bungee cords were pulled, and it was difficult! Then more volunteers came to the front who were labeled with things that can help: elders of the church, Scripture, brothers and sisters in Christ. They formed a barrier around Elias. Then, with his strength supplemented by theirs, he was able to move, or stay still, effortlessly. Even when everyone else in the audience threw plastic balls (labeled with all kinds of possible distractions) at poor Elias, he was able to stay upright. It was a valuable reminder that Christians are not alone.
The Saturday morning session was led by Erik Calhoun. He spoke about the mind of Christ, and explained how to establish a Christian perspective on life. The attendees formed groups that were assigned a scenario. The groups were asked to offer two possible responses that a person could have in that scenario, one response that was not ideal, followed by a response that best reflected Christ. For example, the first scenario was about what to do when encountering an aggressive driver. One response involved shouting, and the other was to be meek and prayerful, which is also much safer. Some of the other scenarios were more serious, and many were situations that a young person can expect to face. It was helpful to talk through how to deal with tricky problems in a Christlike manner.
Another session focused on the knowledge of Christ. Alex Wilson, from Seattle, Washington, asked what it means to know Christ. He referenced Philippians 3:8, talking about how the Apostle Paul counted “all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” Again, the young people formed groups and discussed how different situations can either be a hindrance or enhance their Christian walks. For example, friendships can be a blessing or a hindrance, depending on the kind of friends a person chooses to be closest to.
There were several hours of free time in the afternoon. Since Saturday was a rare day without rain, some people enjoyed time sitting outside and talking with friends. Many enjoyed a huge game of passing a volleyball around a circle, which went on for quite some time.
The Saturday evening chapel service began with high energy congregational singing, including the fan favorite, “V is for Victory.” After a time for testimonies, Marcus Luka (pictured above) sang a special. Roth Mom preached using Philippians 2:5-8 as his text. He said Jesus set an example for Christians in humbly following God’s plan. Jesus willingly went to the Cross for the salvation of each person, and today Christians can celebrate that He provided a path to Heaven.
After the services both evenings, delicious and healthy-ish snacks were served in the cafeteria. Some of the young people played board games, some sat and chatted, and others went to the gym and played basketball into the night. Everyone enjoyed the time together, both in Bible study and recreation.
The weekend ended with a Sunday morning session about the peace of Christ. The young people were reminded that no matter what happens in the world around them, Christians can rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4).