For the last few years, the youth group at Fannin County Seventh Day Adventist Church in North Georgia has gone on a trip together to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. This outing takes place in the spring, around the time the wildflowers bloom in their various and beautiful colors. It was originally endowed with the name “Flower Expedition” because the youth were planning to learn about wildflowers and other plants. That is exactly what we did on various hikes.

Since that first trip, the name has been changed to “Youth Retreat.” I still prefer the original name, though my friends like the new title better. Over the course of the weekend spent together in either two medium-sized cabins or one large cabin, many spiritually uplifting and outdoor events take place.

On Friday, the families arrive in time to enjoy a delicious dinner together. We close the day with vespers to welcome the Sabbath. On Saturday, we wake up early and have worship together. After that, we eat breakfast, then divide ourselves into groups for Sabbath School. Once we have completed our fellowship with God in His holy book, we continue to have fellowship with Him in His second book, nature. We all go on hikes through the mountains and learn about God’s design in the creatures and plants we encounter. Each is a small testimony to our Creator’s care for us. This past spring, we braved the rain during our Sabbath walk and had a wonderful time with each other in nature.

One of the talks I especially enjoyed reminded us that we are children of God. The speaker gave us Bible verses showing our duty as God’s children and the blessings that can come when we follow His leading in our lives.

I can look back on that time and see how I have grown spiritually. As much as I would like it to, the name of the weekend doesn’t really matter. What matters is our spiritual growth and the time we spend together as a church family.

Author: Caleb Pitman