Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of leading a group of seventh grade girls at BLAST, my church's winter conference. The weekend was amazing. Being able to connect with the girls I was leading and seeing how God was acting in their life, truly touched me. I learned quite a bit about myself, Kelly, my co-leder and our girls.
As much as I love BLAST, I will be the first one to admit how tiring it can be. Sharing a suite with 10 thirteen year olds can be pretty intense. I was taught new lingo, introduced to some funky music and had the chance to vicariously relive my middle school days (yikes!).
If you're thinking about becoming a leader at your church's next retreat, DO IT! I promise you will not regret it. Here are a few tips I have to help you..
1. Bring Snacks
This may seem obvious, but bring LOTS of them. I thought teenage boys could eat a lot, my oh my, could my pre- teen girls eat! I turned around for a minute and everything was gone. Also, don't forget to pack the chips for the car ride back!
2. Come To Terms With The Fact That You're Not Going To Shower.
With 10 people in your room, good luck finding time to jump in- and when you do, hopefully there's hot water left.
3. Don't Expect to Sleep.
Just don't. Between the cooking show marathon blasted at 2 AM or the excited shrieks over their crush liking a photo on social media, getting some shut eye is a challenge.
This is unavoidable and you need to bring lots of them. There will be an ocean of tears. If the convicting and emotional message does not make everyone cry, then the band will.
5. Bring Earplugs.
The middle school girl's especially, tend to scream (some cry) over their favorite and incredibly talented Jesus- lovin' band member. This is great and they should keep doing what works for them, but when you have 30 plus girls surrounding you and screaming for their favorite guitar player at the top of their lungs, earplugs will become your new best friend. After all, the goal is to leave the retreat and still be able hear some things.
6. You Will Get Sick.
No Susan, you will not be the acceptation. Sorry- it just does not work that way. Literally everyone is sick after these things. Might as well call into work right now and schedule those sick days. Get ready to welcome strep throat, bronchitis or the flu into your home!
7. Do Not Trust Anyone With Your Food!
They are lying to you. Those Goldfish weren't left at home. They were eaten! Under no circumstances should you entrust such important things with others- especially siblings.
8. Do Not Drink Iced Coffee Past 6 PM
I learned that the hard way.
Overall, enjoy the time you have on the retreat. Before you know it the trip will be over and you will be back in your routine. Take every opportunity to connect with others and to unplug from your crazy busy day-to-day life. Spend time in prayer and be in the moment. You might not be able to attend or lead retreats for much longer. Soak in every moment, have fun, laugh and make memories.