For two weeks at the beginning of every summer, Camp Arcadia changes from a relaxing and picturesque vacation spot to a loud and crazy gathering of teenagers living, eating, and worshiping together. These weeks are the Alpha and Omega Teen Retreats, and they are a blast every year!
The Alpha Retreat, held this year from June 9-15, is available to all teenagers entering 9th and 10th grades. The Dean for the week was Pastor Travis Hartjen, and counselors for the teenagers left their careers and homes for a week to serve the campers.
“When I was in high school, Camp Arcadia Teen Weeks were a time when I felt I could truly be myself. I could talk openly about my faith, act crazy in the TP with my new best friends, play games knowing it didn’t really matter who won, and most importantly hear the message that Jesus loves me more than I can imagine. I come back now as a counselor to help others to have that same experience. It’s amazing to see God at work during Teen Weeks,” said Sarah Folks, a returning Alpha Retreat counselor.
The Omega Retreat, open to teenagers entering 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, was held June 16-22 with Pastor Bill Yonker serving as the Dean. Pastor Yonker has been serving in this position for 25 years and really believes in the power of Camp Arcadia’s Teen Retreats.
“I have seen incredible people who have been blessed with incredible faith grow stronger, take leadership roles and bear witness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” said Pastor Yonker. “The Teen Retreats are gifts of God dispensed at Camp Arcadia where Romans 12 gets demonstrated over and over: ‘No longer be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Rom. 12:2b).”
The focus of a Teen Retreat is to allow the campers to find themselves in an environment in which they feel comfortable to grow in their relationships with each other and with God. Campers are placed into groups with 7-10 other teenagers with one adult counselor leading them. Throughout the week, campers experience group bonding through a low ropes challenge course, t-shirt making, group games, and in-depth discussion. Spiritual growth is found in daily Bible Study, nightly Vespers including worship and a message from Pastor Yonker, as well as the overall environment of a group of young people praising the Lord together.
“The people are the best part of Teen Week,” said Omega Retreat camper Katelyn Adams. You can be so open with each other, and we are all here for similar reasons, which definitely brings us all closer together.”
It’s very exciting to witness so many teenagers and counselors donating a week of their summer to each other and to God. We are very thankful for the dedicated counselors and campers who choose to spend a week at Camp Arcadia, and we, just like many Teen Week campers themselves, are already looking forward to next year!
“Camp Arcadia is the highlight of my summer and I look forward to it all year!” said Omega Retreat camper Trace McKenna.