H2O Fall Retreat 2021

There’s really no such thing as “just another day at the office” in my line of work. Because people are complicated. And spiritual development is supernatural, by nature. But, perhaps most of all, college ministry is weird — especially when it comes to our annual Fall Retreat!

So it just so happens that sometimes it’s my job to check COVID-19 vaccination cards and/or test results. And then sometimes, I need to educate students on public health measures for the sake of creating a safe space for group interaction: like, “Thank you for sending the picture of your vaccination card! I noticed, however, that you just got your shot this week — so you won’t actually be fully protected by the vaccine for a couple of weeks. Would you be willing to also get a test, to make sure that you’re in the clear?

Other times, my job is to pinpoint the maximal distance of a seed or shard of pumpkin shell, as measured from the starting line of a Punkin’ Chunkin’ contest. All for the sake of getting students to relax and let down their guard.

Sometimes, it’s my job to wear a ridiculous costume — and to encourage other Staff and students to do the same. For the sake of building community.

And other times, my job is to guide a student through a decision to get baptized. My role is to study the Bible together and watch the emotions well up in the student’s heart. All for the sake of gospel proclamation. But even then, with such “standard pastoral responsibilities,” it’s always unique. This weekend, it was unique because the rain was pouring down on the tent canopy above us and a raucous crowd of other students were singing and dancing a short distance beyond us in a sopping wet mosh pit during our Late Night Glow-Stick Dance Party.

I’ve got an unusual job. But I love it. And I’m happy to say that this year’s H2O Fall Retreat was a success! We had about 180 students, and it just felt big again: a sharp contrast to the way things went last year. The weather was mostly overcast, with a few showers passing through — but the rain was pretty minimal, nothing to dampen the overall spirit.

The COVID protocols didn’t end up being a big deal, thankfully. The sessions went according to plan. We hit our marks, leaving space for the LORD to do His thing. And he did. Six people proclaimed faith in Christ by baptism, including a student named Morgan from the Centennial region (which I coach). Tighter relationships were formed.

Fall Retreat things happened at this year’s Fall Retreat. So maybe it was “just another day at the office.” But it’s a good office. And after a year and a half of so much chaos and disruption, there’s something to be said for “just another day at the office.”

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