Midwinter Camps Include Fireside Chats About God

Date Posted: 2/27/2014

Trees and a breeze, at Forest Glen and Lakeview Conference Center, provided a cozy backdrop for the annual Midwinter 2014 weekends this month.  Almost 900 leaders and students from 6-12th grades had their respective spiritual spaces for camps at both Lakeview Conference Center and Forest Glen across several weekends. Sessions included:  “Hot cocoa with Jesus” and “How to be a Christian and an athlete.” Students serving on the Conference Youth Council planned each gathering to be powerful in faith and good for the soul as attendees explored the Old Testament
in Exodus, along the theme of 
“I am who I am.” 

The early February camps at Forest Glen went well, according to youth leader Audrua Malvaez of Faith UMC, Spring. “The first Midwinter weekend featured Russ Bowlin of First UMC, Victoria and Stephen Mackey of First UMC, Houston-Westchase who spoke on Exodus 3,” she shares. “Students discussed the identity of Moses, of God, and ultimately, of themselves in the redemption story of Christ. Breakout workshops included theological conversations around the campfire, ‘God and Pop Culture’, and how God is still active and moving in social media and hip hop music. Our conversations around risk-taking mission explored what missions in the UMC look like and how teenagers can be a part of it.”  The second weekend of Forest Glen camps, directed by Eddie Erwin, featured guest speaker Alaina Kleinbeck, director of Duke Youth Academy.
On February 21-23, students at Lakeview also enjoyed hanging out with friends and worshipping with their peer groups, in spring-like temperatures. Lakeview speakers inspiring hundreds of attendees included Mark Sorenson (Woodlands UMC) and Jamison Doehring (A&M UMC, College Station). “These environments are ideal for making new friends, hanging out with old friends and enjoying God’s creation,” adds Audrua.  One of the seventh grader campers shared this, “Midwinter was the time of my life!! This was my very first church retreat being away with my mom and I was completely welcomed into Lakeview. Worship was a phenomenal!  You could see the Lord’s presence moving throughout the room. My favorite part was small groups. My wonderful group was full of girls who were going through what I was, and that really helped me know that I'm not the only one. The last day was the worst because we had to say goodbye to our Lakeview family, but we know we will remain connected in the daily world as we transform lives as the hands and feet of Jesus!” 

Lakeview Camp Director Carmen Rickel says, "It warmed my heart to see 375 youth and adults come together at Lakeview from across the conference to join in worship and fellowship. It warmed my heart to hear first year participants say things like: I've never been to Lakeview or Mid-winter, but I will be back; this was an amazing weekend; I had no idea what I was missing! Seeing that many youth and adults filled with the spirit and growing in their faith energized and refreshed my soul to go back and serve my home congregation." 
 “I served as Dean of Women for Senior High and cannot say enough about how wonderful this weekend was for all of us!” adds Amanda Boyd, youth director from Woodville UMC.
  “I love the opportunities that midwinter opens up for students,” says Rev. Thera Freeman, TAC Youth/Young Adults Director. “These weekends away during the school year help pattern times for rest, renewal, play and reflection for the young people of our conference. They open up space for deepening of friendships old and new alike across the connection and allow a new place for deep conversation, especially this year as we discussed identity. Special thanks go to the Conference Youth Council and the adult volunteers who were faithful in prayer and planning of the 2014 Midwinter weekends.”