Monday, January 7, 2013

My SpringHill Story

When I was in 7th grade, a wee little girl of barely 13, I had my first opportunity to go to a Winter Teen Retreat at SpringHill Camps up in Evart, Michigan. I had heard bits and pieces of stories from the older kids, and they had always raved about their camp of course, I had to be part of the action. I signed up for our Middle School weekend retreat. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The theme for the weekend was Identify. We were taken into the dining hall and watched a video... a (fake) star name Jenn.Y (No typos, that was it) had been kidnapped, and it was up to us and the "SpringHill Investigators" to find her kidnapper. We were given a lanyard with a schedule for the weekend and a Map of the "Crime Scene" (camp). Afterward, we took a group photo and took a (lonnnnnggg) drive to our cabins. The girls were staying in the Aztecs. (Shudder) We unpacked and realized that in order to use the bathroom we would have to trudge up a snow-covered hill to a set of public bathrooms/showers. That in mind, we walked (about 10 minutes) to the main area of the camp for our first session. (Worship service)

The band went by Attaboy. Right away, there was something noticeably different about them. Their focus was worship. Not fame, screaming fans, and performance time...just worship. The videos and skits were amazing....the broomball be honest I wasn't very excited about broomball.  Then our speaker entered. His name was Ricky Page. He was 5'6", wore a cool hat, and loved Jesus. That much I could tell just by looking at him. When he spoke, it wasn't as though he was talking to a bunch of middle schoolers. He spoke to us as friends, as equals. That got my attention. 

That night, we walked back to our cabin (and got lost) and fell asleep. The next  morning was the Good Morning Game Show, breakfast...and broomball. You have to understand, I'm not that into most sports. Sure, I watch games every once in awhile, but I'm not very athletic. Anywho, let's just go with I fumbled through and lost my first broomball game. Moving on.

Saturday night is what this whole post has been leading up to. At session that night, Ricky told us how much God loves us and wants to be in a relationship with us. It was that night that I realized that being a pastor's kid didn't make me an automatic Christian. I wanted that relationship with my savior...I needed it. When Ricky invited people that wanted to make a commitment to that relationship to stand, it took me half a second to be on my feet. The feeling I had at that moment was, in a word, indescribable. That day, at 13 years old, I rose from my 'automatic christian' stereotype. Jesus was my new BFF.

Thus began my SpringHill story.

The next year I couldn't wait to go back. Ricky Page would be speaking again the weekend my youth group went. The band was Alabaster Box. The theme was Invent. The intro that year involved guessing the inventors of everyday objects. Afterward, we received our lanyards. We stayed in cabins that had athrooms in them and were only a three minute walk from the main area! :D  That year, I learned an Australian greeting...Onya! (Australian readers, I apologize if Narrah lied to me. Haha :) ) I also learned about one of God's greatest inventions: us. This was the year I began my Goalie career in broomball. I started to actually like it! In addition, I got one of my greatest lessons in didn't have a formula, or requirements. I could just talk to God like I would talk to anyone else, and there was no 'wrong' way to pray. Not gonna lie, that was a relief.

Freshman year was a very different SpringHill experience. My mom was chaperoning, we had a new youth leader (the infamous Momma Joy), and Ricky wasn't going to be there our weekend. The lanyards were gone, the intro wasn't there and it felt...weird. However, this was one of my favorite years. The theme that year was One. (One God, One Faith, One Life) We stayed all together in a huge cabin. We had to walk to the bathrooms, but they were closer than the Aztecs. High School retreats were more...crazy. Everyone was so much more excited and on fire for Jesus. I got to share the experience with my Mom, my Momma, and my best friends. That year, Attaboy was back. The speaker's name was Eric Samuel Timm. He painted while Attaboy was was amazing! He was no Ricky, but he had a style all his own that we all loved. In the broomball tournament, we got to Semifinals! Then we lost in a shootout round by one goal :( Oh well. We brought along a Foreign exchange student, Leon, this year and celebrated his birthday at our cabin. This was also the year of Dirty Water and Pineapple Vitamin Water. \

Sophomore year was similar to Freshman year in that my mom went with us again and Attaboy was the band, but that years theme was Thrive, and we got to stay in the infamous Caboose cabins! This began the New York thing for Jasmine and I...we stayed in the New York Central Station caboose. :) The speaker that year was Duffy Robbins. He was nice and funny, but not really my favorite speaker. We weren't allowed to have our phones, and I found that I was a lot less distracted. I spent a lot of time just talking and sharing stories with people. I loved my cabin group. I also was back in the goal for broomball. Our second game we had to play in a blizzard. I still have my written sheet from the Prayer Labyrinth.

Junior Year landed us in Freedom Hall...the closest housing area to the main campus! (Our Room wa sNew York...mjuch to mine and Jasmine's delight) :D The theme was En Route. Worship was lead by The Spark, and the speaker was Brock Morgan. There was almost no snow outside, and it was warm enough that the broomball courts had not completely frozen. It as brutal to play on my knees in the goal, because it was wet and slush-y. The second game we played was against a brutal team, and it left us in a little bit of a foul mood afterward. But we got over it, and had an amazing weekend overall. Josh and Dad even came to visit us :)

Finally, this year came.
I was excited...Ricky was speaking again, Sevenglory (a band that older kids had raved about) was playing, and we were in Freedom hall again. Mom joined us for her fourth year, and Josh came for his first year ever. Boyfriend and some of my best friends also got to come with us! The theme this year was Sketch. I had so many connecting moments - one of the boards from Identified made up the Sketch group photo board, I got to meet and thank Ricky for his impact on me, etc. It was an amazing, heartwarming last year. It was probably my favorite weekend. I never wanted to leave.

There's no way I could describe everything from every'd be reading this forever. But I guess all of this was to share all the fun and growth I have gotten out of my years at this camp.
Thanks are in order.

To the staff of SpringHill...thank you for your work, dedication, sense of humor, and love for God and us kids.
To Matt, Diane, Joy, Greg, Mom, and all the other chaperones over the years...thank you for letting us have this experience and helping to guide us on our faith journeys. You all have inspired and helped me draw closer to God in some way.
To Ricky, Eric, Duffy, and Brock...thank you for speaking to us as equals, and sharing the love of Christ with us in your own way. You will never know how much of an impact each of you truly had on me and countless others.
To the members of Attaboy, Alabaster Box, The Spark, and Sevenglory...thank you for leading worship and spending time with everyone. Thank you for doing it all in Christ's name.
To my friends who have gone with me on these retreats...thank you for being there. Thank you for loving me as I am. Thank you for making these weekends the best of my life.
If you've got a couple more years to go, win me a broomball championship, okay? :)
I love you all ♥

(Apologies for the post length :) )
In Christ,
Megs ♥

1 comment:

Marcia C said...

I can't believe I just read all of that. Awesome story Meg!!!!