There are two questions we get asked the most at the end of summer camp. “How did camp go this summer?” and “Do things slow down after summer camp?” I love these two questions. The short answer to the first question is that summer 2016 went wonderfully well. Highlights spanned from the fantastic weather and ‘warmer polar-bearing,’ to the invested summer staff who were committed to sharing the love of Christ with each and every camper entrusted to their care. We are grateful to be able to live into the mission of GENEVA with such intentionality.
The answer to the second question often surprises people, as things don’t slow down a bit; in fact, we served over 3,000 guests in the four weeks following the completion of summer camp. We expect to serve an additional 11,000 people before the summer staff arrive for training next June. We have a variety of groups that use GENEVA’s facilities and grounds throughout the non-summer camp months including schools, colleges, churches (youth/men’s/women’s groups/staff teams), businesses, and a variety of non-profit groups.
GENEVA’s mission, to create an environment where the presence of God is experienced, the love of Christ is demonstrated and a Spirit-filled life is inspired drives our vision for the retreat ministry. We use the lens of Christian hospitality to filter everything we do, desiring our guest groups to experience a deep level of hospitality when they come to GENEVA. Our hope is that by fully welcoming them, guests can more readily connect to God and one another.
To this end, our approach emphasizes partnership and collaboration with every group, listening empathetically to their goals for their retreat and offering suggestions for aspects of their event that aren’t fully defined. Goals vary with each group; some need refreshment and quiet space while other groups pack their schedules full of activity in order to create relational community building. Other groups come to discuss, brainstorm, and plan.
In an effort to meet the needs of guests and make our vision a reality, we have added more staff to the retreat ministry, created a hospitality team (made up of on-site hosts and maintenance) with intentional training around serving retreat guests, invested in facilities (such as the newly updated Retreat Center and Chapel), and perhaps most importantly, developed a purposeful focus to add value to our guests’ experience. Some of the ways we help groups plan their retreats include helping them identify possible speakers (pastors/leadership experts/teambuilding/etc), overall schedule development, and finding a space on the GENEVA grounds that will work best for their group.
God has provided this amazing resource on Lake Michigan with spectacular views of His creation on display for all to experience. There is something unique and special about water that relaxes and inspires. There is often an audible “ahh” when groups arrive and take in the wonder of the lake. Something special starts happening the moment people arrive, and through our intentional commitment to Christian hospitality, we work so that each guest has time and space to consider God’s call on their lives.
Grace and Peace,