Conference youth make annual pilgrimage to Glisson for Spiritual Life Retreat


 There is no beach to frolic, mall to wander, food court to gather or movie theater to congregate. There are none of the normal trappings that traditionally serve as magnets to draw teens.
 So, why are so many youth eager to make an annual pilgrimage to the serene, remote Glisson Camp and Retreat Center each winter?
 “Our students love it, plain and simple,” said Dondra Davis, youth director of Kingswood UMC in Dunwoody. “Each year the group we send continues to grow. It is the highlight of the year for our youth.”
 Davis will once again be leading a group of Kingswood youth to a Spiritual Life Retreat at Glisson this winter. There are four sessions scheduled: Feb. 22-24, March 1-3, March 8-10 and March 15-17. The retreats, for youth ages 12-18, are sponsored by the North Georgia Conference Youth. Each of the four retreats follows a similar schedule, though there will be a different speaker for each one: Brian Tillman, Shannon Karafanda, Jordan Thrasher and Tonya Lawrence.
 Youth groups of any size may register. Chaperones of the same gender must register at the ratio of one adult for every six youth.
 “Because of funding issues, our youth had to choose this year between going on a ski trip or the Spirtual Life Retreat,” Davis said. “They chose the Spiritual Life Retreat. It is a special weekend where they can learn about Christ, worship in an atmosphere that is comfortable to them, and build deeper bonds with one another.”
 The theme of the 2013 retreat weekends is "Dig," based on Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV):
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
Each worship experience will focus on a different aspect of that scripture.
 The weekends are stocked full of spiritual nurturing that will help stimulate growth in your and your youth group’s faith journeys. Worship, small groups, fun and games, experiential activities and much more will get your faith to dig deep as you join in building a lasting connection with other youth groups from across the conference.
 “My kids love Glisson and I love Glisson,” said Leslie Gray, of Lanier UMC in Cumming. “Our youth have been attending this event as long as I can remember. This is the opportunity for our youth to get away from the noise on TV, radio and other media, and learn more about what it means to be a Christian in the world today.
 “This is just a treasured time. The kids get a lot out of it. The worship time is always meaningful and relevant and they have a chance to get around other teens and support one another. We do fundraisers throughout the year to help pay for this event. And our youth are glad to do it."
The cost of the retreat is $130 per person. A full payment is required upon registration.
“The Glisson site is just phenomenal,” said Rick Adams, minister of youth at First UMC of Pine Mountain. “This is a special time to get away together as a group and focus on Jesus. It is an opportunity for youth to learn more about each other.”
 Leslie Gray sees special benefits for youth leaders as well.
 “I look forward to this retreat a great deal,” she said. “As a leader I can choose to participate or not. I can jump in and help when I feel called to do that and I can also have private time to sit quietly, read my Bible or pray. It allows me time to be with our youth when I don’t have to be in charge.
“It is a blessing for everyone.”
 For more information, contact Sam Halverson at or 678-533-1445.