Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trailer Work Day

One of the challenges we have on our camping trips is that we have more gear than we have room for. Because of this I have decided to remove all of our interior cabinets to make room for more storage containers. I've done the math and I'm excited about the amount of usable space we will have after the cabinets are removed. I've been looking forward to this project for a while =)

Friday, March 30, 2012


Mission Accomplished!! The kids are grungy, filthy & dirty... but what a great time we had exploring God's playground below the earth! After 2 hours of intensive caving we are back above ground and eating lunch. The group is changing clothes and preparing to head back to Clearwater. I can't help but reflect at what an incredible time we've had together over the past 48 hours. God did some really cool things as He forged new friendships, expanded preconceived limitations, relieved stresses & burdens, built lasting memories, taught us new truths, encouraged us deeply, challenged us spiritually, and blessed us immensely. It has been a God-awesome time together and we look forward to the fruit that will be birthed from this retreat. Our special thanks to youth pastors Ron Cooney & Mitch Kuhn for allowing GTD to have the opportunity to put this event together for their students. We also want to thank their volunteers Steve, Jen, Andrew & Josh who helped Ron & Mitch out on this retreat... and helped GTD with numerous tasks over the past 2 days. They are all great people. It was a special time together that won't be forgotten!! Thank You Lord!!


CAVING BOUND (Reliving The Retreat)

It's our last day of the retreat. The group did an AWESOME job breaking camp this morning!! In under 2 hours they packed their personal gear, folded up their cots, broke down their tents, packed up the entire camp & had breakfast!! Job well done crew! We have arrived at the cave entrance and we have some excited cavers and some nervous cavers. We have about 2 hours available to cave as much as possible... so here we go!!!

Doug & Laurie giving caving instructions

This is the cave entrance!! A metal plate is locked over the entrance to prevent unauthorized access.

Steve embarks on his underground adventure through the small entrance.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

OUTDOOR MOVIE NIGHT (Reliving The Retreat)

We had a great Bible study around the campfire in which we talked about the canoeing trip and the spiritual lessons that came from it such as unity in Christ, teamwork, discernment, course corrections, joy, fellowship, avoiding hazards, and more. I spoke for a few minutes about Hebrews 3:13 and the power & purpose of encouragement. God's Word says, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.". The greatest encouragement that we can ever be to another individual comes directly from our courageous obedience to God and His Word. It also comes from when we share with others what God is teaching us. When we live out the Word of God it encourages & inspires others to want to do the same. That encouragement will help prevent other people's heart from becoming discouraged and hardened.

Following our campfire time is outdoor movie night!! The featured movie is... National Treasure 2!!! We have a bed sheet hung between 2 trees and a projector & sound system hooked up to a generator. It's going to be a good night!!


CANOEING, PIZZADILLAS, & MORE!! (Reliving The Retreat)

What a "Wonder-FULL" day!! It was a perfect day to be on the eerily beautiful Ocklawaha River that borders the Ocala National Forest. The sun was shinning in the deep blue sky. The temperature was in the low 80's with the occasional perfect breeze. And the water was as smooth as glass. Since it was a weekday we hardly saw another sole. It was the most enjoyable day I've ever spent on this great river... and that's saying a lot!

We put in our canoes & kayaks at the new bridge on Hwy 314. Each participant helped carry (or drag) their canoes a few hundred yards to the river. They practiced canoeing and played around while some of the leaders drove most of the vehicles to the ending point. Once we were all back together we paddled about 4 miles to the Silver River junction and over to our take-out spot at Ray Wayside Boat Ramp. The Ocklawaha River is one of the rarer rivers that flows from south to north. The kids had a blast!!

Once we returned to camp it was time for a late lunch. We made GTD's "world famous pizzadillas" which is a quesadilla filled with pizza ingredients... a huge hit with our participants!! Each camper made their own while Laurie & I cooked them.

After a late lunch the kids had some free time to enjoy the campsite. Some wanted to kayak on the lake while others wanted to relax on the hammocks and still others played frisbee, worked on the campfire, and hung out fellowshipping. And we all gathered up to play some "mafia". It has been a truly blessed day!!

Youth Pastors - Ron Cooney (Calvary) & Mitch Kuhn (Skycrest)


MORNING DEVOS (Reliving The Retreat)

There is no greater way to start the day than in the presence of God!!! We are like rechargeable batteries and our spiritual power and energy is slowly depleted as we engage the world. It's vital that each day we plug back into our power source - God - through daily devotions (prayer & Bible study) so that we are recharged, filled up, and overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Laurie led the morning devos which were in James chapter 1. It talks about trials, testing, temptation, perseverance, joy, wisdom, prayer, faith, the crown of life, death, and so much more!! It is definitely a power chapter! Each camper was sent out to find a quiet place and spend some time reading God's Word and talking to God about whatever is on their heart & mind. We then circled back up with our camp chairs and took turns sharing what God taught us through His Word. It's the BEST part of each day. These 8th graders had so much to share about what God was teaching them. It's so amazing to see how the Holy Spirit is at work in each believer and leading them on into the liberating truth of God's Word. God used these 8th graders to teach us a lot from God's Word as well!!