A special thank you to one StPYG parent who wanted to share her story as a source of encouragement to other parents of teenagers. You can read her full message below:
Should I Send My Child on the St. Paul Youth Group Spring Retreat?
-from the perspective of the searching parent-
As a parent, the first child seems to be like a test case. When our first (out of six children) approached Confirmation, St. Paul was offering a Spring Retreat to the Youth Group. My thought was – if my daughter wanted to attend the retreat – fine, if not, fine – I never attended a retreat. So, why should I press her to attend?
Fortunately, this child decided to attend. When she returned home, she couldn't refrain from talking about the retreat. She was utterly exhausted but had the time of her life! My husband and I were amazed… as this was a religious event and the kid was so happy.
The easy answer is "yes" -- you should send your child on the retreat, but that would be too simplistic an answer. For us, we have covered the spectrum of interest by the time all our children attended. Some of our children were very excited to go, while others did not want to attend at all. After the positive experience of the oldest child, we wanted each of our children to attend one retreat. It would be optional for the teen to attend any subsequent retreat. We wanted each to give it a try and knew from the feedback that we received from the oldest child – that the retreat would be enriching and enjoyable!
As a family, we have faced various challenges and it is in those times that we have called upon our faith the most. By allowing your child to go on the retreat, he/she will have the opportunity to open up with kids who are his/her own age and see that life is not always perfect for everyone. Each of us faces struggles and knowing that God is there with us is comforting. During this time in your teen's life, he/she is trying to figure out so many different things. This retreat gives your teen a safe and fun weekend that will provide an opportunity to not only grow as an individual, but also in faith.
There is one common thread that has taken place. I can honestly say and believe that each of my children's faith has been strengthened by not only the retreat, but also participation in the Saint Paul's Youth Group in general.
Our six children had varying interests, personalities, and medical issues. One child absolutely refused to attend a retreat. This child was in travel ball and exceptional in soccer. The teen made the varsity soccer team in high school as a freshman and was a starter. We simply stated that organized soccer would end, unless the teen attended the retreat. We meant those words and would stick by them. We didn't receive a call Friday or Saturday. Our teen arrived back to St. Paul on Sunday – exhausted and wasn't talking like the older sibling had done. However, there was no complaining either. So, we went home and really didn't discuss the weekend events unless something was mentioned. Fast forwarding to the next spring, we knew (without a doubt) that the teen had been affected by the retreat. Our teen made sure to register for every retreat, thereafter. In Senior year, the teen was actively involved with the retreat preparations and grew deeper in faith.
Medical issues also should not dissuade you from sending your child to the retreat. Our family has serious medical issues and most of our children continue to be followed up by specialists. I can confidently assure you that there is no worry with the exceptional staff at St. Paul. They are very competent. Two volunteers are trained and certified in nursing.
The teens attending the retreat will have an amazing time as their faith grows. This is the faith which you also must feel deeply about because you are contemplating this retreat. You have a decision to make for your child. Be strong. There is no looking back. It would have been so easy to just tell my teen that he/she did not need to attend this retreat. However, your son/daughter will need their strong faith someday to pull through even the most recent events of this world – difficulties that I never had to face.
The original question was should I send my child on Saint Paul Youth Group Retreat? For me, the answer is a definite YES! If you allow your child to go on this retreat you will not ask yourself: Should I have allowed my child to attend? Instead you will wonder why did I even ask that question and when is the retreat next year? We want the best for our children. As parents, we need to encourage and promote activities such as this retreat. I hope that you send your child on the retreat. I am certain that your teen will get a lot out of the weekend – so much more than you and your teen ever expected.
- A StPYG Parent
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