Who are we and what do we do? At Langley Christian School we equip our students to thrive as confident disciples of Christ in a complex and changing world. At high school, one way we provide authentic Christian learning experiences is through our annual Upward Grad Retreat. Our vision for this retreat is to give each student a transformative connected experience with God (Upward), each other (Outward), and themselves (Inward).
Rockridge was not only a bonding experience for the grade but a crazy, fun, wholesome trip that has already set the tone for our grad year. Everything from the bus ride and meals altogether to chapel sessions, campfires, games, and late-night mosh pits all built to everyone letting down previous barriers and just having fun! We are very blessed to be in a Christian environment where spiritual encounters, sermons, worshiping and praying together are welcomed!”LCS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT
Students spent three days focussed on journaling, devotions, reflections, and receiving recognition or affirmation. It is also important for us to have fun, and the weekend is full of competitive and noncompetitive community building experiences. These vary from sharing dinner together, to large scale games and fireside chats. Finally, we build connection with God and spend time in worship, sharing testimonies, and wrestling with the most important questions of life together.
What does it look like at the retreat?
“My highlight of the trip was without a doubt bonding with classmates. Despite being in the same class for 4 years, Rockridge was an opportunity to really get to know some people with whom I had yet to talk much with. Things like pillow fighting with all forty-something of the boys and playing incalculable amounts of table games really brought our entire grad class closer. Not to mention the multitude of inside jokes that we now get to share. The visit as a whole was a fond experience that will most definitely be remembered by us grads for many years to come”LCS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT
If you were to walk into one of the retreat cabins, our shared homes for the weekend, and look around… what do you see? First, perhaps you notice the obvious things–the everyday trappings of young people. The clothes hung hastily; the airpods safely positioned on a high shelf; the shoes tucked carelessly under a bed. What else? There’s a well worn bible sitting on the bench beside one student’s bag, complete with worn pages and exposed post-it notes. And inside another bag, not directly visible, a printed page, this one adorned with the familiar LCS green, with a quote from 1 Corinthians 9. Perhaps this is just for show, perhaps they are leftover notes and reminders from classes, practices, chapels, or conversations long forgotten? So look deeper. Look past the shoes and clothes, the Fraser house t-shirt and the I-phone, the calculus textbook and the work schedule… what’s that at the bottom? A set of letters, some hand-written and some typed. They describe faith and hope, talents and dreams, potential and learning, memories of victories… memories of losses… These letters are poured over, prayed over, and crafted with love, imbued with meaning.
“Our Grad Retreat at Rock Ridge brought together our entire grade so well. One of the best memories of the weekend was our campfire gathering on the last night. We all sang together to song after song after song of live and recorded music. This evening was such a great factor in building our graduating community as many laughs were shared and meaningful conversations were had around the campfire. This retreat was incredibly beneficial to building a tight-knit group of graduates early on in the academic year.”LCS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT
Now move outside the cabins. Look around. Four or five students are standing with a faculty member. They are chatting about the morning session on labels, and discussing what it means to be loved by God. Look past the torn blue jeans, socks and sandals, and baggy hoodie. You can see in the body language, how they are talking, their gestures. There is a comfort here, a relationship, a trust. You start to sense that this is a group that sees the bigger picture. These students shift the conversations towards faith formation. “How do I follow Jesus more passionately?” or “My friends want to start making church a priority.” In that closeness, in those meaningful conversations, resides the opportunity to challenge one another to boldly live out their faith. Relationships are forming inward, outward, and upward. A buzzer sounds and everyone starts moving towards the chapel room. You hesitate at first, as the entry points are clogged with near one-hundred teenagers passing through the gates. But you sense a buzz in the air, and follow them in. Music pulses in the background, and voices echo around the room as everyone finds their seats. Friends, old and new, make space for each other, smiles, laughter and warmth fill the room. You notice the chairs; they have been arranged in a circle. The voices settle, music fades, and the lights dim, replaced by the sounds of thanksgiving, praise and worship. A speaker steps forward and addresses the room. The message appears casual, but you see past the coverings. This opportunity to speak has been rehearsed, prayed over, refined, and practiced. It is from the heart, impressed there by God. They ask hard questions. “Who are you choosing to be?”, “What matters most?” and “If not now, when?”. The room is still and noticeably quiet… thoughtful and receptive. You hear a new voice begin to pray, thankful for their time together, and hopeful for open hearts and engaged minds. Amen. Slowly the voices return, rising to murmur, while weaving together whispers and thrums. Groups of students begin to stand up and leave the room, a few at a time. The buzz returns and you slip out of the door back into the sunshine. Connection, it appears, is the theme.
“I really loved getting to pray with the teachers and being very vulnerable with them. Praying with my friends definitely impacted me because we got to be real! Surrendering all of our worries about the future and being present with each other was super special to me! Also, I couldn’t forget the afternoon games – my favourite being the paint war and then jumping in the lake afterwards, and more activities around the camp like volleyball, canoeing, and ziplining – we did it all! Lots of crying (happy tears), laughing, dancing, singing, and possibly falling in the lake were all what made Rockridge incredible!”LCS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT