For the last two winters we have sent a handful of our students (along with a brave group of adult volunteers) to Hebron, New Hampshire, for a weekend retreat at Camp Berea. The regional event, called Deep Freeze, provides an opportunity for more than 150 students from across New England to come together and experience Christ in a powerful way. They learn together, pray and worship and celebrate the Eucharist together, and just simply have fun and enjoy fellowship with one another.
But, unless your child attends Deep Freeze, you likely haven’t heard a student’s perspective of what the experience is like. Enter: student Abby Donis, who wants to share some insight into a Deep Freeze weekend and what Berea means to her.
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Berea is a place that has many meanings for me. It is a place of spiritual deepening, laughter and friends, a chance to connect with other like-minded people, and a place where I don’t have to feel different for what I believe in.
It all starts on Friday, when the youth group meets to carpool the two-hour trip to the camp site in New Hampshire. When we arrive, we are greeted by the sight of a glorious three feet of snow. After we have taken our group photo, the leaders have signed in, and our luggage has been dropped off, we head to the gymnasium where we enjoy an ‘80s-esque opening show followed by worship and a talk by Duffy Robinson. Duffy does a great job of connecting with everyone in a fun way while still being able to have us walk out with something new learned.
The next morning, after a very good breakfast, we start the day with worship and a morning presentation from Duffy. Then, we have an afternoon of free time where we can choose from a variety of activities.
Options include sledding, paintball, picking up a game of basketball, or simply warming up by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate. And there’s always the opportunity to explore the beautiful wilderness that the camp is situated around, with a giant lake that usually has thick ice to walk across, if you’re brave enough.
The weekend is capped off with the ever-anticipated Arma-Game-On, a competition between color-coded teams, where the winning team gets to take back the golden bowling pin for their youth group and have a fifteen-minute head start to the celebratory ice cream (and, of course, unlimited bragging rights). Then, once we are all hyped up on sugar, team pride, music, and laughter, we are sent to bed where no one sleeps until very, very late.
The next day, we start with a morning of worship where all the Anglican churches meet together to celebrate Eucharist and pray together. Afterwards, we scavenge through the cabin for our stuff, and it is almost guaranteed that someone will leave their toothbrush or snow gloves, causing a mad sprint from the parking lot all the way down to the cabins one last time. But after everything is found and everybody is in their appropriate car, we start the long trek back home. The car ride gives me two hours to reflect on what has happened over the weekend and to realize a renewed desire to continue my relationship with God. Back home, I think I can safely say that everyone looks forward to a good shower and sleeping for the next twenty-four hours. And, of course, marking our calendars for next year.
Abby is in 9th grade. She is homeschooled and she enjoys painting, longboarding and gaming. This was Abby’s second year at Berea and yes, she definitely wants to go back!