It was a perfect weekend for the Northeast Ohio H2O Fall Retreat. We brought together staff and students from Kent State University, Youngstown State University, and the University of Akron. And God showed up in beautiful ways, like He does at every Fall Retreat! It’s hard to sum up everything that happened in words. But here are some of my favorite photos.
The Life Group that I coach (Centennial) designed special edition T-shirts for this year. And the Fall Retreat served as our grand unveiling. We looked pretty amazing, if I do say so myself. If only our performance in the annual H2Olympics could have matched our swag…
The H2Olympics are perhaps the most colorful and photogenic elements of the Fall Retreat. We have colorful characters like Glenn the Bear and Coach Nick (pictured above) to instruct and officiate. Each Life Group has its own team colors: White for Youngstown… Black for Eastway… Blue for Tri-Towers… Red for the Quad… Green for Centennial… and Gray for the City Life Groups. And almost invariably, the best pictures of the weekend come from this one hour just before lunch on Saturday.
But I’ve honestly wondered if we need to discontinue the H2Olympics. College students (and humans, in general) can be so competitive! There are way more arguments about competitive imbalances and infractions than one might expect with silly games like an egg toss, a scavenger hunt, or a trivia contest and an Oreo eating challenge. Consequently, our team made a conscious decision to take the mindset of “We’re just chauncing” — and we ended up in dead-last. Still, at least we didn’t get too bent out of shape in the process.
So, the Red Team from the Quad defended its championship from last year, and they looked resplendent in the process. Honestly, though, all of the teams looked great. And even with the character refinement that can happen in the process of winning and losing, it ended up being a great time together. The H2Olympics are still good for establishing a group identity and breaking the proverbial ice that can inhibit people in their late-teens and early-twenties. And for some excellent pictures by which to remember the weekend.
There were a lot of other things that happened emotionally, relationally, and spiritually over the course of the Fall Retreat. But most of those things (individual fireside conversations… after-lunch tie-down conversations with the Life Group… worship music and teaching…) don’t photograph nearly as well. However, there was a baptism celebration — and the pictures for that turned out beautifully!
It was extra-special that I got to help baptize a freshman named Maya together with my daugther, Olivia! Maya has been following Jesus for several years, and she’s considered baptism on many different occasions. But this first month of her first year at Kent State University has been instrumental in solidifying her faith in Jesus. So, she wanted to proclaim that publicly among the H2O community. It was a proud and happy moment on multiple levels!
Praise God for doing Fall Retreat things at this year’s Fall Retreat!