On October 1st the CCC set out on our annual fall retreat. This year to the Virginia Beach area. We arrived with no issues and beautiful weather. We unloaded at Eastern Shore Chapel, where everyone was very happy to see us again, and then after a change in clothes pilled back into vehicles and drove to our pre-determined fall festival, Bergey’s Breadbasket in Chesapeake, VA.

We had learned earlier through their social media that the tickets were discounted that day – as well as received a reminder to bring boots because it was really muddy. We traipsed around the corn maze taking pictures and shouting “Marco” and following the sound of the responding “polo” of a friend for a while until we decided it may be more prudent to divide into two teams. Naturally, it wasn’t more than a minute until it became a competition. My team finished first after proving the theory of “when in doubt, go left.” Team two came out hot on our trail, though. We all tried our hand at shooting a corn-gun, a first for all of us. I jumped every time it launched a third of a dried cob into the air. We went off in search of the other fun activities that the website had to offer. When we were unsuccessful, I volunteered to go make inquiries.

As it turns out there was a reason the tickets were discounted. The other fields were too muddy for the hay ride, the sunflowers were not in full bloom, and it was daylight which provided for a very sunny bonfire. A little disappointed we all walked around some pumpkins wondering what we could do. It was decided that we would go back to the church, change shoes, and go down to the ocean to hang out at the Neptune festival that was happening that weekend. Spontaneity breathes joy and vibrancy into life – it tends to make it more meaningful.

Once we arrived to the festival it was clear that it was far larger than I had expected. Masses of people roamed around in and out of shops, restaurants, and milling about on the boardwalk. Our group, as we tend to do, gravitated towards the water. We walked along the boardwalk, saw some neat crafts, petted some precious puppies, and then begged to go down to the water.

We took off running towards the water and we splashed around, laughing and shouting about how cold the water already was. Cute pictures were taken and stories were shared about the last times we were all at the beach. It was with great reluctance that we all pushed our sandy, damp feet back into shoes and trudged up the banks towards the loud music that no one was really paying attention to.

We got huge pizzas for dinner, played some fun games after changing into pajamas, and were then lulled to sleep by story time with Shannon W., a highlight and tradition on retreats. However, the edge of the water, a decision made spontaneously in more than one aspect, will forever stand out to me. I stood at the water’s edge surrounded by some of the best friends I will ever have on my last CCC fall retreat and soaked it all in. The clouds that hung a mild grey in the sky nor the choppy, salty waves could take the thankfulness and the joy away from that moment. Next year, everything will be different, but the water, the joy, and the friends will never change.

Student Ministry Team