GA Retreat helps girls love missions
MT. VERNON—More than 1,300 girls attended the annual Girls in Action (GA) Retreat over a span of two weekends (April 13-14 and April 20-21) in four different locations.
The weekend retreat held at Baptist Hill Baptist Assembly, Mount Vernon, focused on giving girls ages 6-12 the chance to meet new friends, learn about missions, and grow in Christ. This year’s theme was “Treasure Quest: Discover the Jewels of Missions.” It focused on the treasures of Christ.
The weekend began with a general session featuring worship and a speaker. To introduce the theme, Janet Buchanan, a Southwest GA special worker from Springfield, performed a skit entitled, “What is this treasure you are searching for?” The monologue allowed the girls to begin a quest to find the treasures that Christ gives.
After the session, the girls were split into groups and were allowed time for interaction and application. Vivian McCaughan, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) / Women’s Missions and Ministry specialist, led the purple group in a time of relationship building. The girls were asked to fill out a survey about their “treasures,” highlighting their favorite objects and activities. Each girl was able to share her treasures with others, helping the children learn and grow with each other.
The exercise helps develop friendships.
“It’s fun because it is fun to meet new people,” observed Ashtyn Gregg, a fifth-grader from First Baptist Church, Avilla.
While the beginning of the retreat focused on letting the girls play games and find new friends, the heartbeat of the weekend was evident to each attendee.
“I love to come to camp because you get to talk with God alone with no disturbances,” said Grace Workman, a fifth-grader from First Baptist Church, Hermitage.
The schedule allowed time for the girls to reflect on the lessons and hear God’s will for their lives. McCaughan echoed the spiritual importance of the camp.
“I believe that our GA retreats are important because they give the girls and their leaders another opportunity to experience missions and God’s will for their lives,” she said. “The retreats are structured so that the girls have Bible study and missions study activities throughout the weekend. Some of these girls will be the appointed missionaries of tomorrow.”
The retreat featured several afternoon conferences focusing on missions. Jadonna Hoover, International Mission Board missionary to Guatemala, was asked to share her missionary experiences with the girls. Hoover, along with her children, Jayne and Jackson, explained the importance of witnessing in missionary life.
“We are a part of the conference to share with the girls that there is a great treasure in Christ and we need to share Christ with friends in other countries,” Hoover said.
The annual GA outing relies on the volunteerism of local GA leaders. Each church brought along adults to lead the girls in Bible studies and to build stronger relationships within the local GA groups.
Loyah Vannicolo, an adult leader from First Baptist Church, Hermitage, said the weekend was a chance for spiritual growth.
“I work with the girls every Wednesday night,” she said. “I enjoy working with them and watching them progress in their faith. I was here last year and the girls enjoyed it and had a good time.”
Nancy Green from Avilla Baptist Church feels that the weekend allows the leaders a chance to connect with their GA students.
“I like to come to GA camp because it brings you closer to the girls. I also have a couple of girls that are seriously interested in missions,” she said.
Vannicolo added, “I have girls with parents that do not come to church, and I feel like it is important for them to have a good role model to confide in and help them with decisions they may be facing.”
GA Retreats are sponsored through Cooperative Program funds through the MBC. The Missouri WMU is the overarching organization in missions’ education for the MBC which includes GAs. Local planning committees work throughout the year to provide volunteers and services.
Emily Logan, local committee co-chairperson, has been involved in the planning since September.
“We make sure we have cooks, nurses, and sound volunteers,” she said. “We also coordinate sleeping arrangements and assist in any way necessary through counseling and leadership.”
The retreat was held in the following locations: Baptist Hill, Mount Vernon; Grand Oaks Baptist Assembly, Chillicothe; South Missouri Baptist Assembly, Van Buren; and Camp Inlow, Philadelphia.