The last week of July, every year, a large group of high schoolers load into a bus for 16 hours to learn more about themselves, their neighbors, and their faith in Montreat, North Carolina. We spend a week laughing until our stomachs hurt, sharing meals, singing songs, hiking, and forming a better connection between each other and God. This trip keeps youth coming back every year because there is nothing more special than gathering with 800 other youth from all over the nation to form bonds that last a lifetime. After coming back from the 2022 conference, we have “more than enough” good things to say about Montreat.
“To me, Montreat wouldn’t be the same without snacking at midnight, laughing deliriously with some of my closest friends. There is something so special about waking up to hike at sunrise and being able to appreciate nature in such a thin place,”- Shelby Homan
“Personally, Montreat wouldn’t be the same without the people I go with. Something about staying in a house with 30 people helps strengthen your bonds with everyone that surrounds you and makes the trip that much better”- Katie Rahe
The theme for the past week was “More Than Enough.” What do you have more than enough of? As a youth group, we learned that we have more than enough love from God and trust for one another. We are created in God’s image, and there is nothing we can do to be considered less than enough through the image of God. Every day, we focused on different words: recognize, receive, rely, resist, and realize. All these words circled back to the initial theme of being “More Than Enough.” Not only did we listen to reflections about these themes, but we were given many opportunities to discuss with our small groups and back home groups. Small groups have 10-11 students all from different churches, who meet twice a day, allowing us one more way to become closer with youth not from your church. Every evening, to finish the night, we have a back-home group, a time to discuss and reflect on the day of what we learned with the people from our church.
There were many takeaways from the past week, but a particular favorite was the “wisdom pearls” coming from the book of Esther. The worship leader, Rev. CeCe Armstrong, dressed up as Esther to keep us engaged and follow the main message. The wisdom pearls we learned from Esther are to know that you have a purpose, know that your gifts are sufficient, and know that you should be humble. These pieces of advice were simple tasks but also are hard to remember at times.
Keeping in theme of “more than enough,” for the second year in a row, we hosted a pride fellowship event where we welcomed members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community. 10% of the conference was present on our porch to celebrate God’s love for us all.
Peace be with you,
Shelby Homan and Katie Rahe