AGS Freshman Retreat 2012

Disclaimer: When I say AGS I don’t mean Ateneo Grade School, because even before Ateneo became an integral part of my life, there was Amazing Grace School.

And yes, this post is about the latter school. And this first high school retreat I was in charge of.

I’m not new to conducting retreats/camps. Ever since I became one of our youth group’s leaders, I’ve learned the ins and outs of a successful Christian camp. I’ve been leading camps since 2008, actually:

(sidenote: notice how I have fattened through the years [fattened talaga])

December 2008 | Dugyouthers in Zambales

December 2008 | Gulat Face

Holy Week 2009

Mid-2009 | Sleepover/”Camp”

Mid-2009 | I used to look like a boy, yeah

December 2009 | Youth Camp with Kiwis

December 2009 | Youth Camp with Kiwis | | Yes, I’ve had that jacket since 2009 =))

Holy Week 2010 | Villar, Zambales

December 2010 | SOULDiers Youth Camp | Where the name ‘SOULDiers’ was decided 🙂

Holy Week 2011 | Langgam Outreach

When I knew last June/July that I’ll be this year’s Teacher-in-Charge of the Freshman Retreat, I had worries. Not only am I a new teacher, but I have not led retreats as big as this one. Sure, I know how to handle 15-20 campers, but 80+ campers (and first year high school students at that)?! That’s just a huge responsibility I wasn’t sure I could handle.

As the days drew nearer, and preparations for the retreat became even more urgent and intense, I realized that this upcoming retreat will be nothing like anything I’ve ever led before. I have to be ready in all aspects–physical, mental, and spiritual–and set my goal: to allow students to enjoy their first retreat ever. Aiming for “most memorable” retreat is a long shot I didn’t want to hope for, since I know that they will be part of more camps and retreats in the future. Even my own freshman retreat is a blur to me now. All I asked from the Lord the night before the retreat is for them to enjoy and to encounter God in a personal way like they never had before.

After three days of earning points and groups competing against each other, learning to eat quietly, playing group games, crying (and during retreats, don’t we always?), worshiping, and hearing the Word of God, I know in my heart that my prayer was answered.

I don’t mind if they don’t remember the details of this retreat. All I want is for them to remember October 24,the day when they told God they’d sing of His love forever, and that their very lives would be the love song for the world to hear.

That, for me, is more than enough.

All photos below, c/o my student, Louise Mariano.

First game: Piso Game!


With Sir Alomia and Sir Parayno, thinking of questions for the game Minimum to Maximum

Jee in Action, Part 1

Jee in Action, Part 2

I took these sunset shots! From when the sun was just setting, ’til it had finally set. This was the breathtaking view from our retreat house’s rooftop! This, plus the Tagaytay breeze = LOVE

It was quickly gone in just a minute or two!

Second day! The sky’s already getting dark by this time, but we were able to still play two games before it finally rained hard. This first game’s called Paypay Pingpong!

One of the highlights of this school year’s freshman retreat, and a favorite memory of mine: Nathan Padilla trying all his might to make a pingpong ball roll even if it’s still taped to the floor.

Next game: Pass the Message, Upgraded!

Another shot of me with the megaphone just because I look cool with it haha

Sir Jerome, Sir Flor, Sir Manny and me!

I was gonna explain how the game went, pero mahabang explanation pala. Basta involved itong apat na bagay na ‘to =))

Giving the winning teams their points

During Biblelympics. 😀

I look bored, but I think I was just really tired here. I can’t be bored, not with the funny group presentations!

I was asked to give a speech after the awarding ceremony. Debut? =)) PS: I was wearing my Ateneo jacket over my La Salle-inspired faculty jersey. Talk about pseudo-rivalry

A lot happened during the last three days–and most of them tried my patience–but I’m still thankful I experienced conducting a high school retreat. Another teaching experience I will never forget!

This year’s Freshman Retreat was held at La Verna House of Prayer in Tagaytay City from October 23-25, 2012.


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