The grey sky was dark, and tiny water droplets spit at us as students started showing up for the for LIFT (Lifestyle Improvement For Teens). The weather seemed to be taunting us saying, “I am going to get everyone wet as they go from place to place and make this event miserable.” We were relieved to see that the weather didn’t have anything more for us than a light drizzle and students and teachers were able to move around without much problem.
This was the second annual LIFT event since its creation in the Wisconsin Conference by Sue Nelson, one year ago. LIFT is an interactive retreat designed to inspire young people, grades 7-10, to make positive choices that will benefit their lives and the lives of others spiritually, socially, and physically. Students attended classes, created by teachers and pastors of our conference, in these three areas.
There were many different classes to help students socially. Learning to Make Pizza was a crowd favorite especially the closer to mealtime that it was. This class promised a yummy treat at the end that everyone enjoyed. Etiquette Class also promised a big treat at the end because, after learning all the do’s and don’ts of etiquette, students were able to practice their newly learned skills at a banquet. In Team Building Class students learned to work together to accomplish goals through games created by the teacher. Students had to work together and listen to each other. Last but not least, in our social classes was a class on writing resumes and interviews. The teacher showed the difference between a good interview and a bad interview. She showed a really funny bad interview example that everyone enjoyed. Before writing their resumes, students also took a quiz to help them know what occupation might be a good fit for them. After taking the quiz one student exclaimed, “The quiz told me I would be good at the opposite of what I want to do.” When asked, “What did the quiz say you would be good at?” She answered, “Farming!” Another teacher who was there at the time of the exchange explained that she comes from a family of farmers, so that knowledge made the interchange even more funny.
We had some great classes to help students work on physical ability also. It was at delight to be able to watch First Aid 101 for a while. Students were learning about allergies and how to use or help someone having an allergic reaction with an EpiPen. Students got to practice using the EpiPen on their neighbors. Some of the students were concerned about what was about to happen to them. They asked, “Will this hurt?” The teacher reassured them that the needle had been taken off and there was no medicine. The students had a great time using all the manipulatives that the teacher brought to learn various first aid strategies. Self-defense was another fun and important class where students learned how to stay safe at school in an emergency as well as many other things. Lastly, students enjoyed canoeing class. There is just nothing better than enjoying the beauty of fall while in a canoe on a lake.
Our spiritual breakouts were especially a blessing. The most important goal of LIFT is to help our students fall more in love with Jesus and want to follow Him and listen for his voice. One of the classes, called “The Truth About Truth”, helped them understand where truth is found. Students did very hands on experiments to show them that they needed someone that they could follow who would give them good directions. They discovered in the class that many people will tell them they have the truth but the truth can only be found one place, the Bible. If someone tells them something that the Bible disagrees with, then the person isn’t telling them the truth. Along with this class the students took another class on Bible Marking. This class helps make it easier to locate the places in the Bible that they want to remember so they can share those passages with others. Students also illustrated different Bible stories in the class Spirituality in Art. Students used watercolor and included leaves and flowers and other God provided supplies to add to their pictures.
A lot of “just for fun activities” were planned for the students also. They had fun during rec times doing volleyball, soccer, basketball, and capture the chicken. Students played large group games within their class groups one evening to get to know each other better. After an awesome banquet, the students put on a talent show. Kaitlyn Schultz, an 8th grader, sang a song for us. Dayle Kurowski, a 10th grader, showed us more about self-defense and things she learned to get her black belt. Makenna Foreman, a 7th grader, made us laugh by telling jokes. Zoe Egger, a 7th grader, played clarinet. Other groups juggled and some groups showed how controlled their blowing was. Some students even demonstrated target practice and many more fun activities.
Thomas Meadows was the speaker for most of our worships in the morning and evening. It was awe inspiring to learn about how God worked in his life and changed him from the inside. On Friday morning, it was a thrilling to see how God is working in our young people in the conference. Mahalia Rittenhouse, the spiritual vice for the sophomore class at Wisconsin Academy, spoke to us about how everyone is different and has unique gifts that God can use. These spiritual threads tied everything together and completed our LIFT experience.
Debbie Darnall, Associate Superintendent for Education