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SPSYC November '22 Retreat Recap!

On November 18 - 20, 2022, the Sierra Pacific Synod Youth Committee (SPSYC) held their annual Elementary and Middle School Retreat at Mt. Cross Ministries. They gathered under the theme, “God’s Love: Inside Out” and centered their time together in 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.” SPSYC welcomed Sam Garcia of Hope Lutheran Church in Fresno, CA as the Keynote Speaker and Musician for the weekend!

The Retreat began on Friday evening as campers arrived from Petaluma, Sacramento, Castro Valley, Fresno, Roseville, and beyond. Campers enjoyed board games in Upper Jensen before beginning the first Speaker Session of the weekend, with a few songs of course. Campers concluded the night with devotions in their cabins, bundling up for a rather cold November weekend in Santa Cruz.

Day two of the Retreat began bright and early with optional morning activities - a hike through the Redwoods or Cartoons and Hot Cocoa in Upper Jensen. After a delicious breakfast, SPSYCers led campers through Bible Study Rotations featuring different stories rooted in love - John 15: 9-15, Luke 19:1-10, and Luke 10: 26-37. Campers acted out the scripture in their own broadway-style productions, expressed their thoughts around the passages through watercolors and artwork, and remembered to care for creation by making new items out of recycled materials.

After a morning Speaker Session and lunch, campers then transitioned to an All Camp Game on the field - featuring the beloved Uncle Duger, Extreme Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Amoeba Tag.

The afternoon brought another Speaker Session with Sam, which then led into a Choose Your Own Adventure time. Campers participated in cookie baking, dodgeball, arts and crafts, or a hike. Let’s just say, cookie baking was well attended!

As the sun set and temperatures dropped, campers bundled up for the evening festivities. Following dinner, they gathered for one final Speaker Session, followed by “Evening Fun Time”. SPSYCers offered two activities during this time - a Prave (a large dance party) or a quiet Story Time. After dancing their hearts out and winding down with a story, campers gathered outdoors on the camp’s patio for a heartfelt Campfire Worship. SPSYCers led campers in songs, performed a few funny skits, and SPSYCer Journey Bost shared an authentic, memorable devotion. Devotions in the cabin rounded out a busy Saturday at camp.

The final morning of camp featured a delicious breakfast and an outdoor Sunday Worship service below the towering Redwoods of Mt. Cross. Speaker Sam Garcia encouraged campers to share memories from the weekend in his sermon, different campers helped lead music on stage, and SPSYC Adult Rev. John Bost presided over communion - which featured jelly-filled donuts, of course.

Opportunities such as this weekend provide children and youth with spirit-filled moments where they witness God’s presence in their lives. The leadership opportunities SPSYCers experience and the mentoring of young campers in a place such as Mt. Cross are a unique part of the ministry of this synod, and engage our children and youth in the life of the church beyond their congregation or ministry setting. This work is impactful, deeply spiritual, and embodies some of the greatest elements of our Church.

A special thank you to Mt. Cross Ministries for hosting the Retreat, especially Joshua Armstrong and Rev. Jeff Barrow. Thank you to Sam Garcia for leading an incredible Retreat, and for the SPSYCers who dedicated countless hours to preparing and leading this Retreat. Thank you to the many adult chaperones who walked with their young folk throughout the weekend and braved the cold camp mornings. And finally, a thank you to the people of this synod for continuing to support the Sierra Pacific Synod Youth Committee, Mt. Cross Ministries, and the Children, Youth and Family Ministry programs in your congregation.

SPSYC looks forward to hosting their High School Retreat at Mt. Cross Ministries next February 24-26, 2023 - more details coming soon here.

Special thanks to Lisa Herlocker and Rev. John Bost for some of the pictures.

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