Over the last week I have had moments when nostalgia has rushed over me. It started during work day for Winter Retreats. Continued Saturday night of our first weekend as I talked with staff and volunteers while spending time in the dining hall and kitchen . Then it continued as I walked over to Olson Auditoruim for the Saturday evening session. It was on this walk that it dawned on me that this is my 13th Winter Retreat season. For a moment it seemed impossible that I have been with SpringHill that long. Yet as I did the math I realized it was true.
Then I recalled my first Winter Retreat in 1998 when Denise, the kids and I visited SpringHill as part of our process of discerning God’s direction for me coming on staff. There were 350 campers and their leaders sitting on chairs in our dining hall – the pre expanded and pre renovated dining hall that is. It was that weekend we felt God’s Spirit leading us to pursue working on SpringHill staff.
The following year, my first winter on staff, we moved our sessions into the brand new gym. The gym allowed us to be more creative in our sessions, provided more recreational options and expanded to 600 the number of students who could attend each weekend. I have warm feelings for these early retreat seasons, for the work done and especially for the staff that did it.
Yet it’s important to know my nostalgia is not because I wish for days gone by but because, as I look back over these 13 years, I’m overwhelmed by the work of Christ, year after year, in and through the staff of SpringHill. I’ve seen our team grow in its ability to provide more creative and effective life changing experiences. I’ve seen our team mature in their approach and thoughtfulness in their preparation for these weekends. And I’ve seen our team work better and better together . There is no doubt there is a strong link between our becoming a more effective team and the nearly 1000 kids we now serve each weekend.
My nostalgia has provided the context for two other emotions I have also felt all week . The first is the pride I feel when I see our team in action doing what they do so well. And the second is thankfulness for the privilege I have to serve with them and to call them teammates.