Covenant Connections

Reflections from the Presbytery Youth Council Retreats

Jan 26, 2023

“Attitude of Gratitude”
Middle School Retreat- November 11-13, 2022
Reflection by Eva Grow (Fourth), PYC Co-Moderator

When PYC came together in late August to discuss themes for our many retreats and gatherings for the year, we focused a lot on the season in which these events were going to take place. When tasked with collecting a theme for the Middle School retreat at Asbury Hills, we were reminded of the upcoming holiday, Thanksgiving. With the vision of pumpkins and turkeys in our heads we began to ask, “What does someone in middle school really need to hear?” Pondering over this question and the idea of Thanksgiving in our minds we landed on the idea of the different attitudes that come with the feeling of gratitude. As we all reminisced on the different “big feelings” we had as middle schoolers, we thought we could introduce one of these attitudes at each of the keynote times throughout the weekend.

When PYC met with Mary Moore Driggers, our keynote leader for the retreat, she made all our visions into a reality. She created small group sessions with a little something for everyone. There were activities that made us think, chances to explore our creativity, and opportunities for us to all come together to find our gratitude. In terms of our group time in keynote, the idea to introduce a different attitude each time was executed to perfection. Mary Moore started with the idea of gathering, led us through Saturday with the joy and yet struggles of this time of year, and ended our time together with an amazing call to action to look for gratitude because we are the only ones that can control our attitudes.

In terms of recreation throughout the weekend, many new energizers were taught, games played, community fostered, and smiles across the board. In afternoon small group stations, we let go of grievances with popping of balloons, created community in a handprint tablecloth, let go of some anger in a snowball fight, honored friends ships through the creation of bracelets, and practiced giving people forgiveness in a game of 3,6,9. As small groups met for the last time, an amazing glow party was set up to give thanks for joy! A compilation of smiles, laughter, and mindfulness created such a fun environment for the weekend!

As PYC, we thank each and everyone of you for being present and showing up, because without you all this wouldn’t be possible! We also thank leaders and parents for getting all of us there safely and all the hard work that went in on y’all’s end! And again, thank you Mary Moore and all of our amazing leadership for creating such a welcoming environment to deepen our faith in holy time with each other and God.

For more pictures from the Middle School Retreat, visit https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAfrr2


“Different Roads, Different Stories”
Senior High Retreat- January 6-8, 2023
Reflection by Sophie deMaine (John Knox), PYC Co-Moderator

The beauty of PYC lies in its members. Different students, different churches, different walks with God. Our differences are what allow us to function as a working team, because it means that every possible weakness is covered. With this in mind, we excitedly gathered in August to plan for the year. Pressley Cox led us in a “Dwelling in the Word”, a time of peace and reflection on the wonderful word of God. We studied the story of the Magi visiting the Christ child and were struck by the beginning and end of the story. The wise men had a calling to follow, so they set out on a long journey. Then, once they had completed their mission and seen the Light of the world for themselves, they were told to go back by a different route. They were changed, so therefore their path must also be changed.

All of us were struck by this beautiful story. As we shared stories of our own, we were also struck by just how unique each member was. So, we settled on the theme “Different Roads, Different Stories” for our high school retreat. We really wanted to emphasize the individual stories that each follower of Christ has, as well as take the time to recognize that the ways one takes to reach their faith could be different than that of their neighbor.

This high school retreat was the largest that we have ever had. I’m sure that if you were in the back row of Convocation Hall, you could tell. (Sorry about the lack of elbow room). While there were unique challenges that arose with our large numbers, PYC was also thrilled to be given this opportunity. In small groups we discussed discernment and discovering paths for yourself, with the aid of a wide council. During afternoon rec, we let students choose their own paths, deciding on which activities they personally felt the most drawn to. And so many stories were shared. Over card games in the lobby, over pinkie promises and high fives. A group of 200 strangers has never felt so much like family.

At the end of the weekend, each participant was given a star word. A sending. An idea to focus on during the upcoming year, as well as the name of someone to pray for. We had arrived with one attitude, and were given a new one to start the year afresh. This group of high schoolers were like the magi, arriving by one path to witness the glory of the King of Kings, and leaving changed for the better.

For more pictures from the Senior High retreat, visit https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAnupN