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])
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.
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.