Planner and attendee Lauren Nicell reports on Nov. 2017 Memphis Conference Jr/Sr High Youth Retreat


"Anchored" was the theme for the Memphis Conference Junior/Senior High Youth Retreat at Lakeshore Camp and Retreat Center in Eva, Tennessee, Nov. 10-12. (Submitted photo)

By Lauren Nicell, 9th grade
Memphis Conference Youth Council
Member, Germantown United Methodist Church

The Memphis Conference Junior and Senior High Youth Retreat
at Lakeshore Camp and Conference Center in Eva, Tennessee, was something the Memphis Conference Youth Council (CYC) planned for a period of two months. It took place Nov. 10-12.
The theme was “Anchored,” which really gave us the chance to go deeper into what our faith story looks like. It showed us that through the temptations and hard things in life, we stay strong in what (God) is doing for us.
As a member of CYC, I really get to be very involved and hands-on in this experience, which provides a huge opportunity for leadership to be shown over the course of the retreat week.  
Coming back to Lakeshore gives me joy that is unexplainable and always gives me chills because of how this place has impacted me spiritually. It is knowing why I am here and that I am nothing but myself and I am growing in so many aspects of my life.
This weekend was filled with laughter, games, tears, worship, love, hope, great food, and some killer dance moves. It was not only through the fun stuff that we got to learn the most about each other; we got to learn through the hard stuff and really got to take those masks off and be more than honest.
I honestly think this weekend wasn’t just for the people attending, but also for the people leading because (it) was so powerful and it brought us to realize so many things about our faith as a whole. In our walk with Christ, we all have times where we feel so broken and that our future is in so many ways hopeless.
One thing that I’ve learned this year is that it is OK to feel broken and not feel OK. The most beautiful part of your story is being a fighter through the rough times by making your way back to the person who sees the most in us.
As humans, we all have our struggles and our daily battles, but sometimes we lose control and it feels like life is really just on an unending streak of going-completely-wrong in all aspects.
This amazing retreat experience was truly focused on diving back into where we started our faith journey and finding where we are rooted. This weekend, many people really showed their “true” selves.
I was given a great opportunity to be real with the people around me and share my story of coming back to Christ when I was literally at the point of giving up on my faith. I was very nervous to share my testimony because it has been rough for me, but when I did, I got a reaction that I wasn’t expecting, which just shows that there is nothing but love in this place.
Sometimes we don’t realize that we don’t know everyone’s true story, no matter how close we are. (Then we) find we have gone through some of the same experiences.
When you are being completely honest, you are not only showing the best representation of yourself, but also giving yourself a chance to be vulnerable and not being scared because the love you are shown is nothing but caring and genuine.
Many of us were reminded that we have so many people who love us endlessly and always want the best for us.
One thing we really wanted to impress (during the retreat) is that personal connections and the way you see God is something you should own because it makes your story special.
Self-care also is important. It’s not selfish because we have to help ourselves to help others in the deepest and rawest of ways.
Most of the time we don’t want to go into what is really going on behind the vibrant smiles we share, but this weekend we definitely did share our struggles. One thing that really stuck with me is that our struggles aren’t something to be ashamed of. They are, in fact, at the end of the day, something to be proud of because overcoming them will make us stronger as people of faith.
Being “anchored” is different for everyone because we go through different things and have a different outlooks. I am truly very thankful for this experience because of all that it really was and how it impacted me.
Community is everything to me and (it) was evident during this retreat!