College Students Experience God through Micro Retreats at Cedar Crest

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In this season where safety of all is of utmost importance, our camping and campus ministries have successfully found ways to be adaptive in how they create and offer experiences of sabbath and discipleship for young adults.  

“One of the most overlooked groups of faith in the midst of this pandemic has been young adults,” said Russell Casteel, Director of TN Conference Camp and Retreat Ministry. “Their safety and recklessness has been assumed to be a given, while the reality is that our campus ministries have created safe spaces, curated to continue discipleship and faith creation.”  

The leadership in TNUMC campus ministries has continued to put the lives and calls of our students first. Camping has supported that good work in shared spaces with the creation of micro retreats – with 10 or fewer students – at Cedar Crest in this season.

Wesley of Middle Tennessee, a United Methodist campus ministry at Middle Tennessee State University, took two micro retreats at Cedar Crest Camp in Fall of 2020. 

In addition to learning and worship time, both groups participated in Cedar Crest’s lake recreations, such as kayaking. One of the groups even used the most recent addition to Cedar Crest’s programming: the zip line!  

This first group was at the camp for a Sabbath retreat during which they focused on rest and rejuvenation. Daniel Phebus, a sophomore at MTSU, said, “It was a time to experience God. To be alone with Him and with Him together. By the fire, in the field, in the trees, and by the still water. It was a place of seeing the psalm within and noticing the psalm without.” 

Madison Causey, also a sophomore, commented, “The retreat at Cedar Crest was so relaxing and rejuvenating and just what I needed after a super tiring few weeks!”

The second Sabbath retreat was with the freshman MTSU Wesley group, Fresh2Wes. The micro retreat gave the students an opportunity to bond with other freshmen at MTSU Wesley. 

Kayli Jones, the MTSU Wesley intern and leader of Fresh2Wes, reflects on the retreat she took at Cedar Crest with the freshmen, “It was a great experience just for us to get away for a moment and Sabbath. We grew closer and learned more about each other. That was the best benefit of the experience, honestly!”

Barbara Frizzell, one of the freshmen who attended, says about her experience at Cedar Crest, “I loved kayaking on the lake and sitting by the fire. It was a relaxing time to be with nature and relax away from all the daily stress of school.”  

Cedar Crest has had the opportunity to serve and partner with several churches this Fall, though the importance of its connection with campus ministry remains significant. 

The camp has had the opportunity to connect with Austin Peay, Belmont, Cumberland, Martin Methodist, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State, University of TN-Martin, and Wesley of Middle Tennessee in offering retreats.