Twenty-five youth and sponsors gathered at Camp Elim, on Lac Pelletier, south of Swift Current, Sask., for Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s youth retreat. Held May 24-26 the retreat was filled with fun and games, worship, and dragons!
Retreat speaker Erika Enns Rodine, pastor at First Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, Man., began the weekend by looking at the literal dragons in history and popular culture and wondering if these creatures existed in our Scriptures as well. As it turns out, monsters like the leviathan, behemoth, and even four-headed creatures all exist in the Old Testament, often described in vivid detail, and used to represent the forces of chaos in the world.
Moving into the Gospels, Enns Rodine talked about how Jesus might not have confronted any literal dragons, but he absolutely battles chaos and, in the case of Matthew 14:22-32, he literally extends a hand to help pull Peter out from the chaos of the storms and waves of life.
Throughout the weekend, Enns Rodine had the youth work on a creative project that represented the dragons in their lives, and she encouraged the youth to think about how God is present in all parts of these situations—in our lament and sadness, and in our hope for the future. She reminded the youth that our creation story is one of love, and it is from that place of love that God meets us, and that we can have the strength and courage to face the dragons of the world.
Other highlights of the event included singing around the campfire, time on the lake in paddleboats and kayaks, a slip-and-slide game of ultimate Frisbee on wet grass, and watching the male youth participants attempt a variety of hairstyles on female volunteers as part of the coffee house! Good and Spirit-filled fun was had by all!
Youths and sponsors who attended the retreat at Camp Elim display their dragons. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Hamm-Epp)
Bodan Caldwell displays his hair stylist qualifications on Kirsten Hamm-Epp, as part of the retreat coffee house. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Hamm-Epp)