On Saturday morning, April 13th, I stepped out of the Director’s Cabin at the Lylewood Spring Retreat and was immediately met with the overwhelming and very pleasing smell of bacon cooking. It is said that smell is linked to memory more than any of our five senses, and I believe that to be accurate. For a few moments I was transported back in time, remembering myself as a child at Lylewood, walking out of the old boys’ cabin and to the dining hall for a delicious breakfast. The faces were different then, but a few are still the same; a bit older, but the sweet spirit remains. As I stepped off the deck, I heard the sound of a four square game and looked up to see kids already playing before breakfast. I felt very much at home. The idea that this is one of the places I will always belong filled me with a peace that is hard to describe.
The day went great even though it started to rain mid-morning and continued the rest of the day. We started with our object lesson right away. The kids had a great time demonstrating their “Strength in Numbers” (our theme for the retreats) by tying a rope to my truck and pulling it backwards up the hill. It was a task that none of them could have accomplished alone, but was easy when they worked together, as they pulled it all the way to the tennis courts with ease. We spent the afternoon doing various tournaments and games. Our new game, carpet ball, was quite popular and a little hard to explain, but was a instant hit. It even managed to shut down four square play for a while. After our evening meal, we had a panel discussion where various adults told their stories of Christian friends and the impact that they had on their lives. On Sunday morning, we discussed how to be a GREAT friend and how important it is to love, support, and even hold them accountable. It was an awesome weekend studying God’s Word, singing, playing, laughing, and strengthening friendships while making new ones. I have rarely seen a better group of young people.
I am very blessed to have many, many Christian friends, and I feel incredibly blessed to have made so many of them at Lylewood. While I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first came to camp as a 12 year old boy, my apprehensions were soon replaced with feelings that I was loved, accepted, and belonged there. That is why I return time and time again to this place where I belong.
Summer camp is quickly approaching. I pray that the camp grounds will be filled with screams and shouts of young people having fun, the hill ringing with singing and worshiping God. I pray that quiet moments of prayer, reflection, and study lead to better understanding and a closer relationship with God. I pray that lifelong bonds are made, and existing friendships are renewed and deepened. I pray that young people who attend camp this summer leave filled with hope and armed with new knowledge. I hope they leave closer to God and each other. Come join us, and belong. ——George Shelton