Montreat center provides visitors a breath of fresh air

Above is a creek on the Montreat center site where campers go “rock hopping.” / Hanna Williams / Times-News correspondent

Commentary by Hanna Williams
Times-News correspondent
teens20@thetimesnews.com

After the church service on July 12, the youth group at First Presbyterian Church of Burlington began its journey to Montreat, a conference or retreat center in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina.

As we drove under the iconic stone bridge with “Montreat” engraved in the rocks, memories and emotions came surging back to veterans of the retreat while anticipation and expectations rattled inside newcomers.

While Montreat mainly serves as a conference center for Christian youth around the nation, it also provides other places and activities to keep its visitors busy. Some campers spend their afternoon kayaking, paddle boating, or swinging at Lake Susan or hiking the steep trek of Lookout Mountain. One’s hunger can even be satisfied at Montreat’s famous restaurant and ice cream bar: The Huckleberry.

Despite the tourist attractions in and out of the conference center, the youth that attend will tell you that it is a place of acceptance, new friendships, and compassion.

Each day at Montreat is started off by a morning service called keynote. During this time, energizers are performed by camp staff, and two preachers from different parts of the country read scriptures that connect to their sermons. After keynote, all of the youth disperse and make their way to small groups.

Small groups are sometimes the most intimate part of Montreat because people from all across the country share things about themselves, such as what sport they play, their faith journey and sometimes, even the struggles they face. My favorite thing about small group is that we start off the beginning of the week as strangers, but by the end, I get to grow so close to people in my small group that we still stay in touch even after we leave Montreat.

After small group in the afternoon, many campers get dressed up and ready for evening worship. During this service, specially picked musicians prepare us for worship by singing. The service is then finished out by sermons preached by pastors from different churches.

The week of Montreat is a week of my summer that definitely stands out above the rest. The people around me including my small group, the pastors, and even my own youth group help me grow stronger in myself and my faith.

Visit montreat.org for more information about the programs offered at the center.

Hanna Williams is a rising junior at Williams High School and a Teens & Twenties writer.

 

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