This year’s men’s retreat saw the Brothers of Warrenton Church of Christ making tracks to the woods of Linden, VA for some spiritual growth and enlightenment at camp WAMAVA.
The event was headed up this year by our dear brother Royce. This was his first retreat. He organized a committee that managed all the details of the trip, and speaking as a camper, I think Royce and the committee team did an excellent job.
The one thing of course that no organizer can control is the weather, and as it turned out, the Friday evening we all set out to head for camp had us enjoying a fairly robust rain storm. While this might have dampened some of the bedding we took, and certainly some shoes and socks as we unloaded our vehicles, it certainly didn’t seem to have a dampening affect on anyone’s spirit. Indeed I think heavy rain can somehow augment the memorability of an event in some strangely nostalgic way. Maybe it always invokes feelings of being a child playing outside when unexpected rain suddenly has us running for cover, soaking our clothes and making even the most rudimentary shelter a veritable luxury hotel once we get out of the downpour. To be clear though, there’s nothing rudimentary about camp WAMAVA. This place is really awesome, regardless of any bad weather.
Happy to have only a short run from the cars to the meeting hall, we all got our gear in, got situated and then got a rather wonderful fire burning in one of the two fireplaces available. We then enjoyed an evening devotional with some prayers lead by brother Royce, and some singing of hymns lead by our brother Shawn. Originally we had planned to have a camp fire outside and hold the devotionals and singing around it. However, with the rain still beating down outside, we adapted to the fire place option and enjoyed the evening just the same. After the devotionals and hymns we all got together round some tables to catch up and to get to know each other a little better. It’s somewhat rare to have that kind of unfettered time to just talk to each other. At services there’s always time pressure, places to go after, Monday to prepare for and so on. So it’s nice to just sit around with no particular agenda to follow and just talk. Only the eventual need for sleep would be likely to put an end to the easy dialog that moved us forward and strengthened our brotherly bonds.
At the end of the evening, most of the brothers started to drift off to the accommodation cabins around the campus to try and get some sleep. We wanted to be rested and ready for the main events tomorrow where we would be contemplating our theme for this year’s retreat – mentoring.
Saturday Morning and no Rain
After a night of mixed fortunes in obtaining sleep (which this author failed to accomplish miserably), some of the men got up early and started to prepare breakfast in the rather awesome commercial kitchen in the main hall. Meanwhile, others dropped into the nearby town to purchase fresh donuts while the hot plates warmed up and the bacon, eggs, sausage, and pancakes were getting started. It was clear to me as an observer of the kitchen activities that some of these brothers were no strangers to commercial kitchens, and brother Bob H. was looking particularly at home over by a huge hotplate flipping a vast array of pancakes one by one like a past artist. Indeed I later learned he had worked in food hospitality in a past career – yeah that figures I thought as he shared the story – “you did look particularly comfortable over there brother”.
After a hearty breakfast rather Shawn delivered an excellent devotional on the theme subject of the retreat – mentoring. After he had shared his thoughts and got us all thinking about what mentoring was, who should be a mentor, who should receive mentoring, how to use prayer as part of the process, and how to mentor by example we broke off into small groups. The challenge was to think about ways that the men of this church could be mentors to others.
After we spent about 20 or so minutes in our small groups we reconvened as a large group and discussed our findings. There were some wonderful thoughts, ideas, and suggestions about how we could all become mentors, and to whom we could mentor. I don’t have sufficient column inches here to cover all the content that we discussed, but suffice to say there are a large number of brothers in the church who will be actively seeking ways to mentor not just those already in our church, but those we meet out in the world, our friends, colleagues, spouses, children, or anyone in need of teaching a guidance in some area of there lives.
On behalf of all who attending this retreat I want to thank the organizers and presenters for doing such a great job making it an excellent success. It was not lost on us how much effort and thought you must all have put in to organize every detail of the trip, accommodations, food, logistics and all the things I can’t think of that must have taken great effort. Thanks to you all my brothers and sisters.