4 perspectives on 1 youth retreat

31 Jan

The annual Cross Culture retreat was held in Sihanoukville on January 7-9, 2011 (Cross Culture is a TCK youth group in Phnom Penh, Cambodia). Attending the retreat were 5 leaders, 9 high schoolers, and the speaker, his wife and three kids. A great time was had by all! Camp always means different things to different people, and so we’ve put together the perspectives of different people who were at the camp….

Most of the Cross Culture retreat participants playing games at the beach...

Most of the Cross Culture retreat participants playing games at the beach...


Nathaniel Cheung – Sydney, Australia

The Cross-Culture weekend away down at Sihanoukville was an amazing experience for both the leaders and the youth. It was filled with crazy games, singing, great talks from the book of Matthew, and time just hanging out together. The weekend gave me a look into youth ministry in a MK/TCK context and the differences and similarities that it entails. Perhaps the most significant thing that I took away from the weekend was the conversations and relationships that continued on afterwards with the other youth leaders. There was a real unity in vision and passion despite the differing personalities, perspectives and styles present. Indeed this proved to be even more valuable in providing a fresh perspective and sparking new ideas as we all continued to talk post-camp. I am certain that God used that weekend to bring us together and to create a real sense of what He wants to do in our lives and in the lives of the youth we minister to. I will greatly miss the time spent with Christina, Tanya and Hannah. But I know that God has much in store for all of us as we each go back and deepen our own understanding, sense and outworking of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and seek to faithfully minister to the youth that God has placed in our lives.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Peter 2:9-10

Hannah Pollock – currently in Phnom Penh, most recently from Christchurch, New Zealand

Where do I start? Rabid camels, amazing worship team, blessed speaker, giggles, girly chats, coffee addictions, sing-a-longs and of course, CHUCK IT!!! To sum up the Cross Culture retreat in one word: refreshing.  I had only been in Cambodia for 2 months and yet I needed refreshing. Spending time with awesome young people who are on fire for God was such a pleasure. It reminded me that our father is constantly working in each of our lives. Hearing new and different stories created in me a fresh awe of God. I loved the theme of camp; only Christina and Tanya could centre a retreat around rabid camels in Australia (you really had to be there, don’t miss out next time!) We dealt with how we include God in our lives: the desert times and the times we try to do it alone. Facing these issues is never fun, but God used our time together to challenge us.

Tanya Crossman – Beijing, China (originally from Canberra, Australia)

This was my second Cross Culture retreat. I love doing camps with the Phnom Penh kids. I love that they are at the same time both very similar to and very different from my kids in Beijing; there are TCK similarities, but every youth group has its own unique culture. The Youth in Asia vision is always stirred so strongly in me when I spend time with TCKs outside Beijing – I am reminded that there are so many groups with the need for quality youth leaders. Spending time with Nathaniel and Hannah (and Christina, as always) contributed greatly to this vision-painting and passion-stirring. At this camp, I was inspired by the concept of adapting and – how the same games can be adapted to fit different situations. I was also blown away by the power of a well integrated theme, with games and messages that connect to a central idea. The narrative of the weekend was a clear connection between all the different elements of the camp. In Beijing we’ve talked many times about creating “hooks” that messages hang on, things that anchor them in the minds and memories of the youth we minister to. The well integrated theme of the Cross Culture retreat provided a constant source of hooks – where games illustrated life lessons, and games/skits made for easier recollection of the message itself.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. – 2 Peter 1:12-15

Christina Valenti – Phnom Penh, Cambodia (originally from Massachusetts, USA)

Camp for me was amazing! Pretty amazing to think I’ve been involved with camp with Tanya Crossman for six years in two different countries. Each time she comes to Cambodia (this was her third time) it reminds me of God’s faithfulness, and that life is  a journey. His perspective is so much bigger than ours, and sometimes (times like this past camp) we catch a glimpse of what he seems to be moving towards.  Having Nathaniel (visiting from Sydney)  and Hannah (who moved here this past October) be part of camp and the shared sense that we were together to do this now, and would take away an appreciation of God’s heart and the importance of youth ministry in our own groups and each others – reminds me I serve a God at work in the world.

I loved watching my students bond during crazy games and beach time. I loved the late night opportunity for good chats, and memories that LOOOOONNG bus rides provide.  I loved hearing John’s solid teaching and his creative, crazy challenges to respond and watching my youth rise to the challenge  in a memorable way each time!  I know Tanya and Nathaniel were appreciated as they led us in worship times. And nobody will forget the rabid camel hunt on the beach . . or the antidote the next morning.  Creative, memorable, fun, crazy, community all these words sum up camp for me; in other words as the FB statuses stated days after camp . .   EPIC. . . now to do it even better next year  =)

Christina, Hannah, Tanya, Nathaniel

Christina, Hannah, Tanya, Nathaniel


Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Leading Youth, Special Events, TCKs


Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “4 perspectives on 1 youth retreat

  1. Jiah

    January 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Hey, thank you for the comment :)

    I’m actually not sure at all where this is headed, but just the idea of being a TCK and feeling like I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to experience a wide variety of cultures, yet feel a lack of belonging got me wanting to explore this as a school project for ages! I’d love to have any TCKs you work with to come by my blog and they can leave comments as well. Hopefully I can make something inspiring to help other TCKs out there. Anyways your comment really got me back on track with work so thank you!


    • Tanya

      January 31, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      Glad it helped! Look forward to seeing more of your experimentation :)


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