By Becky Clendaniel (Originally posted on Becky’s Blog)

There’s something so authentic about retreats. Of course you’re not in a real-world setting; you’re not with your parents, your dog, your sisters and brothers (sometimes). But you’re with some of your best friends and God. I think that’s pretty much all you need, actually.

I was the “worship leader” at a retreat at Delanco Camp in Jersey this weekend. I came into it terrified and excited at the same time, but I didn’t think it would affect me that much. I just wanted to see the kids grow.

But something different happened. I made friends (thank goodness for Facebook cause they all live in Jersey) and I strengthened other friendships and I made a fool out of myself at both volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee. But I think one of the coolest things is that I got to see the “retreat experience” from the other side.

I got to see just how passionate these leaders are for kids and for God. I saw how much this weekend mattered to them. They work, they have jobs, but they were so willing to help out. I saw just how much work it takes to make weekends like this one run as smoothly as it did. I was honored to be considered a leader with them; they were incredibly friendly and loving and accepting of me, this girl who had never even been to Delanco before.

I think I grew as a leader too. I’ve led worship at home a number of times and even at retreats (when I was a student). But I think it makes a difference when you don’t know any of the kids. I think it was better, more authentic, more real. I got some reassurance that I can lead when someone (in this case, Steve) steps back. I can stumble my way through praying without too much trouble. I can get the kids engaged. In no way am I anywhere close to being able to do something like that weekly. But it’s nice to know that I can.

The thing I hated the most about retreats when I was in youth group was the feeling I got when I came home. That deep feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you “you’re home, it’s life back to normal, back to school and homework and all that crap”. I certainly didn’t expect to feel that today, after being a leader. But I do. I guess it’s God showing me that I’m still not too old to learn something from these retreats, to grow in my faith, to get a little closer to Him every time. I’m glad for it.

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