Thunder 2017 Recap
There’s nothing quite like a room full of 450 middle schoolers shouting in unison out of excitement for an epic weekend at camp with their friends. On Friday night of our annual Thunder Retreat, hundreds of kids from all over the Pacific Northwest gathered to kick off the event and the anticipation in the room was palpable. As soon as the doors opened, middle schoolers streamed into Rainier Center, which had been carefully transformed into a scene from Indiana Jones – complete with a decked out safari Jeep, jungle vines creeping over every surface, and colorful, swirling lights streaming across the eager crowd. Once everyone had made it inside, the lights shut off and the sound of a thunderstorm began…soon building into a universal roar of hundreds of voices expressing their enthusiasm for what was to come. At the height of the excitement, with the Indiana Jones soundtrack playing in the background, Pete Anderson of Crossroads Community Covenant Church in Yelm, WA suddenly started lowering himself down from the ceiling on a rope, stunning the awaiting crowd. As he descended, he welcomed everyone to the event and Thunder 2017 was officially kicked off.
The weekend was a wild ride – everywhere you looked there were kids running around in outrageous spirit costumes matching with their churches (my personal favorite was a group of kids in chef’s hats), elaborate games and activities happening, and countless conversations going on between old and new friends. The kids participated in a giant game called “Raiders of the Lost Book,” which called each church group to an epic quest around camp – completing Indiana Jones inspired challenges, collecting puzzle pieces, and racing other churches to the finish line. Many also got the chance to participate in one of camp’s epic extreme activities, such as the high-adrenaline zip line, Rubicon rides or climbing tower. Others went on peaceful trail rides through the endless acres of Cascades woods, participated in a creative pumpkin painting contest and other fall-inspired crafts, or went canoeing on Elbow Lake. One of the highlights of the weekend was bringing in a live reptile man, who wowed the crowd with his collection of snakes and other slithery creatures – kids even got the chance to take selfies with an alligator!
Along with all of the over-the-top fun and games, students were also provided the life-changing opportunities to connect with their peers and spiritual leaders, immerse themselves in poignant, inspiring worship, hear from dynamic speaker Erik Anderson, of Crossroads Church in Woodbury, MN, and remember God’s “never ending, never giving up, always there for you ‘hesed’ love.” Students discussed self-confidence, loving others well, and sensing God’s constant work in their lives, and were given the chance to connect with God and all that He has to teach them.
Hundreds of hot chocolates, cheeseballs, paper vines, selfies, and giggles later, we’ve concluded the appropriately chaotic and beautifully transformative weekend that was Thunder 2017. We are grateful once again for God’s blessing over the event, and can’t wait to invite hundreds more middle schoolers to camp again soon. See you next year!
Brielle “Lava” Cosgrove