Elvis, Dutch Blitz and Befriending Anxiety: The Navigators Fall Retreats

Over the past couple months, Navigator campus groups across the country have taken a weekend to get away, bond with one another and learn more about God. These retreats have become a crucial element in the campus ministries that have implemented it, taking place once in the fall and winter semesters.

At each retreat across the country, both Navigator staff and interns led workshops and sessions on topics aimed at teaching the participants important Christian messages they can transfer to their everyday lives. These topics ranged from financial stewardship to the importance of spending time with God every day and recapping the internship experience.

Retreat speakers are usually members of the local Navigator staff, though occasionally guest speakers are brought in to do dedicated talks on their areas of expertise. At the Eastern Ontario and Southwestern Ontario retreats this past fall, Ron Pagé came to speak on “Befriending Anxiety and Stress.” Ron is a bi-vocational Navigator who holds a significant position in the Navigators while also serving his community as a licensed family and marriage therapist.

In addition to these times of learning, there’s still time carved out for fun and relaxation. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to strengthen the bonds between people, and the community as a whole as a result. As the ancient proverb goes, “those who Karaoke and Dutch Blitz together, stay together.”

To give a better idea of what these retreats are like, we’ve compiled quotes from participants on what their experiences were like.

From the participants:

“The Navigators retreat was a really nice experience for me so early in the school year as it let me have an opportunity to meet others from my university and learn from people’s life stories. One takeaway was a fresh motivation to try and spend more time with God even if it was not necessarily reading the Bible, but perhaps praying more and asking myself to let Him be more present throughout the whole day.”
– Mikaela Russell, UBC

“The whole idea of befriending anxiety. Obviously that makes no sense because friends hang out, so that would mean becoming more anxious. What he meant, I think, was that instead of trying to avoid anxiety and anxiousness that we should try to get to know our own anxiety. I think by doing that we can understand what it is we long for and what it is we need and what it is we are not getting enough of.”
– Duncan Polley, Carleton

“During one of my talks, a wildlife photographer came into the building to say that he saw a grizzly bear nearby. I lost my audience at that point. Fortunately, the hostel manager nonchalantly told us that it was probably Bear #122, and we had nothing to worry about from that bear. How many of you can say a grizzly has ever interrupted one of your talks?”
– Rick McCallum, University of Calgary campus leader

“It was a really great experience all around. I learned things that apply to issues I’ve been dealing with for years, and it was all delivered in such a relatable and genuine way.”
– Kai Wall, Western

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