“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” – John 10:10

This past weekend, we went to Copperhill, TN for our annual  Student Fall Retreat. We took a bus of teens to go whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and play all kinds of games. You can probably imagine what our cabins smelled like. But the payoff was definitely worth it. Picture a room full of over a hundred middle and high school students singing to God with all their hearts without a single care of who is around them. That’s the real reason we go every year. To give students the opportunity to experience God in ways that they really couldn’t in a normal environment.

The theme this year was Walking in Freedom. We learned how to recognize the negative voice in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough and to know that Jesus is bigger than all of that. We heard the truth that God doesn’t just want us to live our everyday lives to get by but for us to have a full life in Him. The students got to be surrounded by others just like them and know that we’re in it together.

One student in particular had an amazing time. She’s the oldest in our group and didn’t have a lot of girls her age come on the trip. Without any nudging or coaxing, she took it upon herself to be there for the middle school girls who hadn’t been before. She showed them where to go, how to truly live the cabin life, and in general, took them under her wing. I was trying to figure out why she was doing it but eventually I got it. She’s had her faith life formed by this retreat in the past and she wanted to make sure that these girls had the same experience.

It was a weekend full of funny stories, core memories, and really good conversations of faith. I can’t wait to do it again next year.