Each year, the LCU Choir, Symphonic Band, and a cappella group Best Friends begin their fall semester with a trip to the beautiful mountains of New Mexico. The annual retreat, hosted by Camp Blue Haven, provides a relaxing atmosphere in which students can get to know one another and focus on the missional aspects of their respective groups, both towards others and one another.
“The annual choir and band retreat serves as a tremendous way to start out the year for our large ensembles,” said Dr. Philip Camp, director of the Praise Choir and Chamber Singers.
“During the days of A Cappella and Meistersingers under Dr. Wayne Hinds and Charles Cox, the annual chorus retreat took place immediately prior to the first day of classes,” he explained. “All students were invited to attend, and auditions for the choruses took place at the retreat, followed by a concert on Sunday evening for a local church.”
For the past 15 years, the retreat has taken place after ensemble auditions. In 2009, with the re-establishment of the LCU Symphonic Band, it became the Band and Choir Retreat, and the past two retreats have also welcomed Best Friends, LCU’s contemporary acapella group.
Mr. Ryan Smith, the new director of bands for LCU, explained how this retreat is important for not only the students who attend, but also the directors and officers as well.
“Having the ability to learn more about the students and their needs, both educationally and spiritually, has allowed me to begin and plan the semester to have a greater impact on their lives. Through challenging activities such as the ropes courses, silly games to get to know each other on a deeper level, and worshiping God together in song, I feel we all come away from this weekend stronger and ready to support each other for greater success.”
Camp echoed the sentiment. “Our goals are to get acquainted on a deeper level, to engage in worship activities, and to set a spiritual tone for the year.”
The retreat schedule includes time for worship, as well as time in which members can share stories, thoughts, and advice. For many seniors, it was a time to pass on a few things learned in their time in college; for others, it was a place to share struggles, give encouragement, or to simply share experiences.
“The upper-classmen always have thoughtful words of encouragement for the new students,” said Camp. “All are challenged to draw closer to the Lord. We are very blessed to get to go on this retreat as we all remember these experiences throughout the year.”
The students are also given the opportunity to participate in a challenging ropes course designed to promote teamwork and perseverance.
“In alternate years, we have participated in ropes course activities,” explained Camp, “which was the case this year. It was amazing to get to watch students encourage each other as they struggled up a 35-foot climbing wall, and took the first step off of the tower to ride the zip line.”
In the end, Smith shared a sentiment that reflected the attitude of the program as a whole: “It was an absolutely positive experience, and I cannot wait to go again next year.