The OSL Youth Group embarked on three day summer retreat near Lesterville, Missouri last week. Eight youth plus Kelsey and Pastor Jay piled camping gear, supplies, and clothes into two vehicles and drove to the Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. A campsite was chosen – two of the “walk-in sites”, which required the youth to pack everything onto carts and wheel them up to the sites! After setting up camp, a run to the grocery store was necessary. The nearest store was 45 minutes away. Armed with a shopping list, the youth picked out everything they needed for the next several days.
Morning and Evening Devotions
The theme of the summer retreat was “We Believe: Communion of Saints”, using the phrase “the communion of saints” from the Apostles’ Creed and Luther’s explanation to the Third Article. Devotions were centered around God Calls, God Gathers, God Enlightens, God Sanctifies, and God Keeps. Each morning and evening, devotions were done around the campfire, accompanied by some guitar. Holy Communion was celebrated the last evening of the retreat.
On Wednesday, the Black River was rafted by the group. Two rafts carried the group of ten, and after a slow start it was an amazing and relaxful day. Lunch was enjoyed on the river, as well as a rope swing, and plenty of swimming in several of the deeper areas of the river. Right as we were getting out of the river at the end of the float trip, the heavens opened up and we were drenched with rain! Fortunately, our campsite barely had a drop!
Thursday was a much cooler day, and perfect for the hiking excursion. We hiked the three mile Mina Sauk Falls trail on Taum Sauk Mountain (the highest point in Missouri). The trail was difficult to navigate, it had plenty of rocks and elevation drops. The Mina Sauk Falls were barely a dribble since it has been pretty dry in this part of Missouri.
The shut-ins are difficult to describe – the river has cut through a large rocky area which has left all kinds of places to climb and swim. We spent a couple of hours here both Wednesday and Thursday and was a highlight of the trip.
The youth helped with all aspects of camp life – preparing meals, cleaning up, starting fires, getting water, carrying things back and forth between the vehicles and camp. As a result, we were all exhausted at the end of the day!
This was a great retreat, each of us growing closer to one another and closer in our relationship with our Lord. Thanks be to God!