We made it through our first retreat season and now are headed into our first “planned” maintenance season. Before we get too far away from the end of winter retreats I wanted to send an update about the highlights of our season. The winter weeks fell into a rhythm of their own for us as a family, and at the same time each of us had a slightly different twist on the weekends. Here is a rundown of the weekend highlights for each of us, listed youngest to oldest:

Lydia: She enjoyed the winter activities in snow valley, although it took a couple of weeks for her to remember that she could go into camp and enjoy those things! By the last three retreats she spent more time in there enjoying the tubing hill and the skating rinks. She was very persistent in learning to skate with the ice skates she was given at Christmas, and she was motivated by watching the long-time staff kids who are very proficient at skating. In a general sense, she learned how it feels to be a staff kid during retreats.

Mary Emma: Like Lydia, she enjoyed the winter activities once she remembered they were an option! She also really enjoyed helping me with my shifts working in the skate hut. Her opportunities to be at the activities were a little more limited because some Saturdays she had ballet commitments. A couple of the Saturdays she had a ballet lesson in the morning at the studio she attends in Oscoda. And one Saturday we had to make a trip down to Troy for an audition for a summer ballet program she is going to attend. The last weekend was a fun highlight as she worked with her sister in the West Side dish room.

Grace: She was at college for the whole retreat season….except for the last weekend! She came up from Hillsdale with her boyfriend to work in the West Side dish room. They had a fantastic weekend enjoying camp and it was a fun family endeavor to all be working in camp for the weekend. Grace got a feel for coming to “work a retreat” while also living at camp. 

Rachel: I enjoyed learning the routines in the East Side kitchen during Food Prep Fridays and the Sunday lunch cleanup routine. I also really enjoyed working with the other staff who had been assigned to East Side for the winter. It was a particular joy that the three new staff families – us, the Mirons, and Kathleen Anderson, were all on ES together. So we were all figuring it out together, brought along by some of the experienced staff who were on east with us. I also enjoyed learning how to work the skate hut, which often was during the late shift Saturday night. Besides these things at camp, I also was on taxi driver duty getting Mary Emma to her ballet things on some of the Saturdays. 

Jim: He worked each weekend in the ES dish room and got that down as an efficient routine, working with a new crew each weekend. Each Friday night he worked check-in for the east siders greeting the groups as they arrived. A highlight of this was seeing some new administrative processes work well that he had put in place. Things such as the ministry partner agreement and the new liability form. Also, because of the new network, they were able to run check-in from two different places on camp at the same time. A highlight from the last weekend was to have Covenant Life Community Church stream their Sunday morning chapel service online and have the new network be able to support that. 

It has been a great retreat season and was a blessing to host guests. Now we move into cleaning week and maintenance season! 

Rachel, for the Bennetts