Glacier View Ranch, Colorado … Greater Summit: High School 2020 kicked off in the middle of a small storm on Friday Evening, January 17 at Glacier View Ranch. As the first guests arrived and took the Matt Morgan shuttle from the head of the driveway, snow that had been floating down all afternoon was picked up by the evening wind, tossed in icy sheets through the air. As the evening progressed, nine of the ten groups signed up for the weekend would arrive, bringing with them over 150 students and sponsors. Fortunately for everyone, the cold temperatures and blizzard conditions of Friday evening would not match the warmth of the blessings that poured out on attendees throughout the weekend.

The weekends’ events centered around three main sections, Encounter, Engage and Enjoy, allowing students to worship, discuss, and spend time connecting with each other.

At the Encounter sessions, Pastor Jennifer Woody from Washington State shared messages of hope and joy while simultaneously cutting to the heart of our spiritual journey. As Pastor Jen shared advice and experience on connecting with Jesus to live “Fully Alive,” no one was off the hook.

Reduce distractions and look to Jesus.

Don’t make excuses.

Don’t expect to always experience joy as a feeling, because joy is a more than an emotion.

Joy is Jesus. Joy is a choice or obedience. Joy is yielding and surrendering.

Commenting on the encounter sessions, a student said, “This weekend was very spiritually uplifting. Every single thing Jen said, I really took to heart.”

After each of the weekend’s four Encounter sessions, students departed the auditorium and headed to the cafeteria for “Engage.” At Engage sessions, volunteers and sponsors lead the attendees through curriculum designed to take the topic presented and make it applicable for the individual.  At each table sat vases filled water absorbent beads called Orbeez. Students poured a small amount of water into the vase, watching the colorful beads swell and fill the space – a representation of how our lives fill with joy and become full as we fill our minds with Jesus. “We thought the water orb centerpieces would be okay for the high schoolers,” commented Jessyka Dooley, RMC associate youth director, shortly after witnessing a student toss an Orbee into the air as his friend, chin propped back, jaw open, attempted to catch it in his mouth.

High Schoolers like to have fun while presenting a cool and collected exterior. That’s a fact.  And the Enjoy sessions created spaces for the participants to do just that. At the Kulikup Cafe, treats and hot drinks were served up along-side plenty of board games and a Nintendo Switch setup with Mario Kart for some interactive gaming. In the Long House, the artistic types were creating one-of-a-kind mugs and decorating bags for Project Angel Heart in Denver.  Meanwhile outside, the daring and adventurous students were taking snow tubes off of double ramps and hiking through the wind and cold to experience the spectacular views afforded by GVR’s mountainous terrain.

As the weekend drew to a close, many prayers of praise were lifted for the nice weather that had arrived Saturday morning and carried throughout the weekend. Hearts and minds refreshed, no one quite wanted to leave. Diego captured the feeling the best, saying, “Wow! Wow! Wow! What a great weekend.” And a few minutes later, “Literally one of the best retreats I’ve ever been on, and I’ve been on quite a few.”

Well said, Diego. Well said.

Kiefer Dooley; photos by Eddie Hall and Caleb Haakeson