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“It’s good to be back!”

This was the echo of many who braved the cold, snowy winter weather to travel to Beulah Beach for the WhiteOut Winter Retreat last weekend. From volunteers to staff to youth leaders and students, many people observed and commented how refreshing it was to gather at Beulah Beach once again. The Fall and early Winter seasons have been eerily quiet and still around here with just a handful of guest groups coming throughout the holiday months. So for lines of vans, cars, sleeping bags, and energy drinks to once again grace our campus…it was a positive and hopeful sight to see!

The weekend began with it’s usual amount of hype and hilarity as the different youth and counseling groups spaced themselves out around our Gym and Auditorium for the opening MIX! This Wild West Weekend saw kids making their own homemade cowboy boots, learning some new hoedown line dances, and getting to laugh with two quirky and memorable characters, Tim & Tum Tumbleweed. The MIXES are meant to energize, engage, and direct campers towards the truth and love of Jesus. With a mixture of skits, group games, loud music, laughter, worship, teaching, praying, and discipleship, The Wild West WhiteOut MIXES had it all!

We were honored to have Brian Menzie from Grace Gathering church with us all weekend as he sought and taught truth from God’s word. As he spoke each session, Brian continued to ask and challenge everyone three important questions:

1. How is God getting my attention? 2. What is God saying? 3. What am I going to do about it?

With practical ideas and biblical stories, Brian was incredible in engaging with the students while driving home very real and present truths. He summed up the weekend with this. “God has absolutely been present here. He has been speaking to us, getting our attention, and doing something in us. Now it’s time to respond to Him.” Thanks Brian for listening and responding to the Lord as you taught throughout the weekend!

The weather was on our side as the SNOW and COLD gave campers the opportunities to go sledding and tumbling down our hills on cafeteria trays as well as playing ice hockey on our homemade ice rink right inside the new Pavilion. It was a slippery, wild, and adventurous time, and we loved seeing the campers outside, enjoying the snow and ice. With indoor group activities like Bunco, Basketball Tournaments, Painting Class, Mechanical Bull Riding, and Crab Soccer, there was never a dull or boring moment for these campers. As it happens every year (by design), by late night Saturday, these youth leaders and campers were exhausted in the best possible way.

We program these events to keep energy going all weekend long as they get to participate in, hear, and see so many things they don’t get to in their daily lives. And with a group of 200+ junior high and high school students, the hype had returned. The energy was felt. Camp was back. And while masks were continued to be worn, pre camp screenings were taken, and other measures still put in place, it truly was good to be back.

We may not know the full eternal impact that was made this weekend, but we do rejoice with those who outwardly shared of the commitments and decisions they made. We celebrate with 34 BELL RINGERS, with 5 of those being first time salvation decisions! God was speaking and people were responding. As I stood around the bell Sunday morning, one girl declared, “This weekend, God has called me to become a Worship Leader.” And with that, she stepped up to the rope and pulled as hard as she could. And while the cold, the ice, and the enemy may have tried to stop that bell from turning…it could not stop ringing. And we could not stop rejoicing.

Thanks to all who prayed, supported, volunteered, and came to this year’s WhiteOut Winter Retreat! We praise God for His provision, His protection, and His purpose that was felt this weekend.