Winter Retreat 2019 is upon us, and the Student Worship Center is currently Command Central, lined with all manner of supplies for the long weekend away. From the mundane (apples) to the madcap (pool noodles for “Noodle Ball”), Patti Messamore and Carrie McCravy are tasked with making all things Winter Retreat happen, and these two women do it with style and grace, and maybe a little bit of lunacy. After all, to organize and provide for over 300 students and 116 adults from 11 different area churches, and to continue to want to do this amazing feat year after year after year, one might need to have a touch of lunacy, and thank the good Lord, Carrie and Patti do!
While they are the first to say that planning Winter Retreat is a group effort, with a Leadership Team made up of folks from several area churches that meets regularly beginning in late summer, everyone involved knows that Patti and Carrie are the brains of the operation. They explained it to me like this:
Carrie: “Patti takes care of all things “people.” From the small groups to sleeping arrangements to breakout rooms and schedules, Patti figures out where everyone will be and when.”
Patti: “And Carrie takes care of all things “stuff.” If we are going to need to eat it or drink it or use it for a game or a breakout session or Communion, Carrie plans it, buys it and organizes it.”
And these two have been working together long enough that they are a well-oiled machine. They also recognize each other’s gifts and inclinations. Patti can make a mean spreadsheet, and Carrie explains, “I just like to shop,” but the beautiful part of their teamwork is that they both are using their God-given talents to make an incredibly meaningful and memorable weekend happen for hundreds of students.
When I asked them why they continue to say ‘yes,’ to this amount of crazy, Patti exclaimed, “I just love it! My own kids had personal stories of incredible faith-growth that happened at Winter Retreat. If I can do this kind of stuff (as she points to her spreadsheet), so that others can use their gifts to connect with kids, I think it’s ministry the way God intended.” Carrie agreed: “The transformation that happens in students’ lives when they can get away from the norm and meet Jesus up-close again is so significant. It’s worth the work. Plus, it’s really fun!”
Winter Retreat is REALLY fun. If you are looking for a short-term, easy place to plug-in and serve, you should come along next year. Patti and Carrie are always looking for folks to help on the Support Team, the behind-the-scenes group who make everything possible at Winter Retreat. Or, if hanging out with 6th-12th graders is more your style, sign up to be a small group leader. Our students definitely need reliable adults in their lives, and spending time with students is never dull and always rewarding. Patti and Carrie would love to add you to their team!