For Wednesday and Thursday, we wrapped up all our previous camps and moved on to retreats for the primary characters of the House of Mercy. Teens and children gathered at the main hall for morning games and worship before splitting off into age groups to pursue their own programs.
Teens focused on mentoring topics, lead by Teacher Colin with Crystal and Calvin swapping in on different days. The first day focused on finding God's will in your life, and dealt with planning for the future - for careers, for ministry and God's calling, and for balancing it all with family and relational life, self esteem, and community approval.
The second day focused on relationships, and dealt with when bonds grew too fast, resulting in miscommunication, unrealistic expectations, and ultimately friction. On both days, teens were not only welcome, but encouraged to contribute to the discussion, to ask hard questions, and to debate points with each other and with the mission members leading the classes.
Meanwhile, the children's retreat centered on a drama camp, and a drime on the creation story; kids twelve and under were taught about how God created each person in a special and unique manner. Lead by me, Teacher Andrew, and Teacher Daniel, kids discussed how people were different from animals and other parts of God's creation.
Between this lesson and a lesson on Queen Esther to show God's plan for each unique person, the kids also practiced their drama mime, following the seven days of creation. Kids also played games that reinforced skills used in communication and drama, like expressions, body language, and blocking.
Last but not least, staff members of the House of Mercy spent their retreat outside the main house, hosted at a local conference center. Free from distractions and duties, they were able to spend time bonding with each other, and building a comprehensive approach to the future of the House of Mercy. Uncle Tomson lead the staff retreat, with Crystal and Calvin swapping in and out as the retreat crossed different topics.
Team games tested the staff member's ability to relate and communicate with each other, allowed them to flex skills otherwise not used in their day-to-day duties, and gave them a chance to have fun and break the ice.
After games each day, the staff settled down into a review of the past years and existing policies. They also discussed progress with individual children and with all the kids as a whole.
Finally, staff members also received presentations on select topics dealing with raising and teaching children and teens, including talks on promoting healthy relationships and appropriately employing technology and social media responsibly.