Youth Retreat Recap: All THE TIME!


A 2018 youth retreat recap.

Written by: Arden Howard.

 Pictures by:  Simone Beller  (UR Youth Student)

Pictures by: Simone Beller (UR Youth Student)

   All The Time.

Every year I look forward to our youth retreat at Shady Lakes because we come together as a family and just love on the Lord. Every year my heart comes alive as we center around his presence making this our priority. And this year was no exception. Going into the retreat I heard the Lord say, “Arden, I want you to forget about what the last three years looked like and focus on the now.” I made this my mindset.  


Our trip started off on Friday in the UR parking lot as the guys practiced their geometry skills trying to fit our stuff on the bus. We loaded up and jammed out to Upper Room Music’s album as we headed to Cleburne, Texas. This retreat was different because not only did we ride on a bus, but also we met another youth group at the retreat center. We had the privilege of joining with Home youth group for the retreat.

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Our stage was lit complete with Christmas lights, fog machine, and pumping sound system, and we were going after the Lord in our first session.  After worship we broke into our small groups, and I surprisingly found I was in a group with middle schoolers. And I smiled a little because I had asked the Lord recently for opportunities to get to know those younger than me in the youth. There I was helping lead a small group with those I wanted to know better.


Saturday morning, I smiled again at the Lord’s ways. First of all, we had an amazing casserole which knocked all pop tarts out of the park (s/o to Grace!!). Then we went into worship. Right as we started, we ditched our set list and went after the Lord worshiping the whole time. A desire of my heart personally had been to grow in confidence in singing prophetically. In that moment, I let go of my mind and sang from my heart. I did not overthink anything. I just sang and listened to the Lord. As Alyssa (Student) and I talked after, we both felt the Lord did so much in the room and personally that we couldn’t even express everything.


GAME TIME! Viva Azul! If you ask anyone, UR Youth is known for the color games and the competition! Although we skipped capture the flag this year, the games were intense, and as always, I saw everyone’s competitive side. I laughed after the retreat because if anyone just sees me on Sundays, then they see the quieter, focused Arden. But on retreat, I become as I quote my sister “my true self.” So although blue barely lost to pink, the games, cheers, and of course paint are one of my favorite parts of retreats! (Hey at least Andrew, blue team leader, and I beat white! @jared @maggie)



Saturday night, the Lord showed up again! Worship was amazing! Shout out to Avia and SarahBeth for coming to the great Shady Lakes! Then, Aaron brought the word. He told the story of David and Goliath in a way I hadn’t heard before. He highlighted the fact that David had many mockers as he approached the battlefield. His brothers, the king, and Goliath all mocked him for his size and his faith. Aaron asked us to think about what mocks us in our personal life. As he said this, the Lord revealed to me areas of my life where I am constantly mocked for what I believe showing me how worn down I had become. The Lord encouraged me in this area reminding me he is right there whenever I need. The Lord also through a word of encouragement reminded me of who I am and my calling. I had been questioning what I knew about my identity in him, and that night the Lord completely answered my prayer for guidance. Wow the Lord is so good!


While the girls went to bed Saturday night after some time on the floor in the presence and oven baked smores, the boys stayed up rapping the night away. So, it was only fit that Sunday morning the girls be introduced to the O2 boys. I was blown away by the hidden talent of our youth boys. I can’t forget the two honorary O2 girls Gabi and Kylie! Represent! Everyone should be on the lookout for that mixtape!






As we packed up and headed home, I thought of how sweet the Lord is for bringing great friends into my life. Friends who sit and talk on hammocks, share Easter candy with you, laugh at your handprint sunburn, play never have I ever, and of course create a bomb group snap. I am so thankful for these friendships and many more.



Youth retreat 2k18 – the Lord showed up in amazing ways! UR Youth rocks!



                                                                                                               - Arden Howard

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