Groups of students caravanned into the desert over the weekend to relax, rest and retreat at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rancho Mirage, Calif. After receiving gift money, the Campus Pastors Office was able to set up the retreat catered for D Groups and groups of friends for $15 a person.
The weekend started Friday night with a short meeting of praise and worship and a handful of speakers. From there, retreaters were encouraged to do whatever they wanted to bond with their group. Some students jumped in the pool for a late-night swim and others cuddled up for movie nights.
Sophomore psychology major Abby Paris took her D Group of freshmen women and said she enjoyed how open the weekend was for the students.
“It was a really good time for us to bond and I liked that they gave us a lot of free time to do whatever we chose to do, whether it be just bonding by watching movies or talking or giving guided questions about things they decided to preach on,” Paris said. “It was just a really good time for us to travel outside of APU and facilitated great bonding between our groups and I’m really happy they decided to do it in Palm Springs.”
Campus Pastor Jamie Noling-Auth, who leads discipleship ministries, said the retreat was created for D Groups to spend quality time with each other early on in the year.
“I think in the Campus Pastors Office, we just have had a desire to get students away for a retreat so that they can be away from distractions and so that students can really encounter God,” Noling-Auth said. “Blending it with D Groups has kind of been a longtime vision, like we’ve desired for students who have already expressed an interest in growing spiritually and growing deeper to have opportunities for a retreat.”
The students’ payment covered three-fourths of meals. Without the gift money the Campus Pastors Office received, the trip would have cost about $90 per person.
“We hope to do it more than just this year, but we received special gift money for this year’s retreat,” said Noling-Auth. “So I don’t know that we’ll always be able to do it, but when we can, we would love to because I think it was a really wonderful thing for students.”