Immanuel Presbyterian Church – Tacoma Joint Youth Groups Event
Event Location: Camp Burton – Vashon Island, Washington

Our group consisted of 19 students ranging from 6-12th grade and 7 adult leaders. We went to Camp Burton on Vashon Island, WA from Friday March 3rd to Sunday March 5th. On Friday evening we began our study of Matthew 25, exploring the ways God sees the “least of these.” After the sermon and worship, we divided into 4 age based small group with 1-2 adult leaders for each. We did some games where we were blindfolded, created some blindfolded self portraits, and had conversations about how we see God and what makes us feel seen.

Saturday morning began with another sermon looking at the Matthew 25 scripture. This time the focus was on that we get to see and experience God when we are in community with the least of these. After the sermon we offered 4 different interactive prayer stations to give people an opportunity to spend time reflecting and praying. After the prayer stations we entered back into small groups where we debriefed the prayer station experience and shared stories of when we had encountered God as we interacted with the “least of these.”

In the afternoon on Saturday we played big group games and had extended free time where the kids got a chance to bond, have fun, and deepen their friendships with one another.
Saturday evening we continued exploring the theme of “When did we see you?” by looking at the story of Nicodemus. The sermon invited kids to be willing to go out of their comfort zones in order to build relationships with those around them who are the “least of these.” It also acknowledged the way that many of us have felt alienated or excluded and can at times feel like the “least of these.” In small groups we discussed ways we could be more intentional about leaving our comfort zones to build friendships with those at our schools who are the “least of these.”

Sunday morning we had a brief sermon where we explored the theme “when did we see you?” by looking at the story of The Good Samaritan. We discussed how we want to be good neighbors and how we can experience God as we take care of those others have marginalized. We then broke up into church based small groups where we empowered the students to make a plan for some tangible way to serve the “least of these.” We then had a final small group session where we debriefed the weekend and prayed for each other.

It was an incredibly successful and well attended retreat and we were thrilled with how it turned out. We are grateful for the grant which enabled us to bring so many students at such an inexpensive price for a great weekend together.