It’s no secret that Montreat, North Carolina is one of my favorite places that I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. For the past six years, I’ve looked forward to that glorious week in July in which I’d travel with my youth group to visit our house in the mountains. While I still got to make that beloved trip this year, things have changed in my life since my last visit.
I was no longer entering that “thin place” as a member of our youth group but as an adult volunteer. Initially, this was a very weird feeling for me; there were no small groups for me to visit twice a day, no recreation activities to participate in. I quickly learned, however, that the Montreat experience is no less powerful, even when returning as an adult. In fact, this new scenario allowed me to approach this week-long camp in a different way.
Instead of focusing on my faith journey, I got to accompany others along their own. By taking time to listen to others, I could see just how the daily struggles of high school students in our communities reflected the state of the world we live in today. When I’d attended as a high school student, sometimes it was hard to feel like I had a place in the world, that what I wanted to say even mattered—but listening to these teenagers talk about the heavy, worldly topics discussed in worship and keynote, as well as their personal hopes and fears, made me realize how bright our future is.
So many adults want to dismiss our generation as “kids these days” who don’t understand how the world works; but, the truth is, we do. We know exactly what is going on in our world and, more importantly, places like Montreat encourage young adults to step up and make the changes we want to occur. Sitting in a room of 1,200 young adults from so many different backgrounds, I was constantly in awe of the engagement and support I saw in each and every one of them.
On the final night of Montreat, one of our preachers reminded us we are all in storms: “We are either entering a storm, within a storm, or coming out of a storm.” And, when we see someone in a storm, we must be storm barriers for those people, constantly supporting them and encouraging them to continue to push forward. Take a look at those in your lives, those that are experiencing storms, especially the young people you know. Those young adults are doing great things now, despite their storms; encourage them to keep fighting and reach the change we know they can achieve.
Written and edited by: Rachel Wood