During the last weekend in January, the First Pres youth group attended the ARP winter retreat at Lake Aurora Christian Camp. ARP churches from the region descended upon the camp to learn, play, and build relationships as a single body. Landing in the middle of a cold front, the cool weekend provided a perfect winter atmosphere for activities and lessons to be had. Thanks to a combined effort of the youth leaders, several activities were provided and enjoyed by many of the campers. These included bubble ball soccer, archery tag, inflatables and arts and crafts. The highlight of the weekend was on Saturday with a camp-wide Hunger Games-inspired sludge war in which campers did their best to cover their opponents in powdered paint, shaving cream, liquid paint, and water balloons. Saturday evening was capped off with a campfire in the woods with s’mores and good conversation.
The lessons for the weekend centered on being a Christian in non-Christian environments, such as school and work, and how to interact with Christian beliefs. The two ends of the spectrum – complete isolation and subculture vs. complete integration and looking like everyone else – were presented. It was taught that neither options are ideal, but rather Christians should seek to engage their non-Christian peers, sharing Christ’s love for them, while standing firmly in their beliefs. Small group discussions were held both nights following the large group lessons. In addition, several seminars on different church topics were offered in which students were allowed to pick two. These proved to be very popular with the students. Worship time was also highly popular, with familiar and new praise songs alike led by Christian band Overflow. The weekend concluded Sunday morning with one last session of teaching and worship. – Luke Brocco