Every year there is an annual Winter Camp retreat with Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at Bellevue College. Chi Alpha is a campus ministry that is a beautiful community for reaching out, friendships, fun, and living life together here on campus. People there love God and love people.
Winter Camp was held at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood, Washington from Jan. 26 to 28. Chi Alpha clubs from campuses all over the Pacific Northwest were present at the camp. UW, WSU, Idaho State University, Skagit Valley College and Whatcom Community College were all represented. There were exactly 417 people present this year who got to experience amazing worship every evening and morning. The part that amazed me the most was that every worship team consisted of musicians and worship leaders from every campus around the Pacific Northwest. Some of them might have never met in their lives before then, but when they all came together to lead this time it was truly beautiful, and it seemed as if they had been doing this together for a very long time. Every speaker was a campus pastor from one of the 12 colleges attending and on Saturday morning we had the opportunity to have breakout sessions with different missionaries from all around the world. The breakout session that I attended was about the nation Nepal. I loved hearing the crazy and lovely stories and pictures the missionaries had to share with us. Hearing how they loved the people there and lived their daily lives was so inspiring.
This year, Chi Alpha from Bellevue College had its largest group go, composed of 17 students and three staff. This may not seem like many, but in 2017 only four students went. Many new students came this year, one of them being Katie Burke, who said, “It was amazing to be in a place where I could expand my relationship with God and with other people on a deeper level, and to make new friendships. I was equipped with tools to build what would last, and that I could carry with me to use in my own life and community.”
After the breakout sessions we had lunch and had free time the whole afternoon. On Saturday afternoon we explored the surrounding trails and beach. The natural beauty there was so peaceful and lovely, and later in the afternoon there was time for people to take a nap, play sports, explore more or do homework. There was even Wi-Fi for those who needed to be connected to the internet to do homework. New friendships were made and old ones strengthened. It was good to take a break from school and work, to rest and be refreshed. That Saturday night was powerful, and one of my favorite moments was when a girl from another campus who was from China sang “Amazing Grace” in Chinese. Another thing I really appreciated was how multicultural it was, which allowed me to hear worship in another language.
Overall, Winter Camp this year was rewarding. It was full of meeting new friends from other campuses and spending time with old ones. Thanks to the retreat we were equipped and strengthened to come back to our own campus rested and fulfilled from being in community.