From Oct. 5–8, 2023, academy students from around the Lake Union spent time sharing ideas, as well as connecting with God and each other amid a picture-perfect setting at Camp Au Sable. Pictured here is Indiana Principal Timothy Erich making a point with the campus spiritual life leaders.

October 12, 2023

Student Leaders Deepen Faith and Hone Skills at Union-wide Retreat

From Oct. 5–8, 2023, academy students from around the Lake Union spent time sharing ideas, as well as connecting with God and each other amid a picture-perfect setting at Camp Au Sable.

The theme was “This One Thing” based on Philippians 3:14, which expresses our desire to leave behind influences which hold us captive and press toward the goal of Christ Jesus. 


Learning Together 

Approximately 90 student leaders from seven academies fanned out across the campground for breakout sections geared toward their respective campus roles. During the sessions, students discussed how their own associations were run and brainstormed ideas they could implement at their respective academies. Among these conversations were understanding the mental aspects of being a student leader, dealing with different personality types, and maintaining strong relations between student officers and other students. 

Outside of their sectionals, student leaders had the option to participate in several recreational activities, such as go-karting, horseback riding, basketball matches and canoeing. This was a time when they could interact with other leaders in a fun and enjoyable way, despite the rain that fell during some of the outdoor activities. 

Andrews University’s enrollment team also made an appearance at the camp, where they provided an inspiration-filled Sabbath School and a fun-filled evening program. 

No event ever goes perfectly as planned. The main speaker, Wendy Eberhardt, vice president for ministries at the North American Division, couldn’t attend because of illness but three speakers were found to fill in at the last minute. Rain showers were present during half the event, but even though students had to travel between buildings and cabins in the rain none of this dampened the activities. 


Speaker Highlights 

The week began with Thursday evening and Friday morning worships led by the Lake Union executive secretary, Elden Ramirez. He told the audience that even though we sin, God will forgive and forget our sins because Jesus’ love covers us. All we’re called to do is accept it. 

Lake Union executive secretary, Elden Ramirez
Lake Union executive secretary, Elden Ramirez

On Friday evening and Sabbath morning, Tracey Wood, youth director for the North American Division, expounded on the importance of understanding that God believes in us. Through a retelling of his experience as a high school senior, he affirmed that God will make a way for us to serve. “God believes in you,” he said, “and all you need to have is a heart of service.” 

Steve Baughman, former Indiana Academy principal and current director of ACE Academy, spoke on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. He told the students they were going to leave on a high but to “feed the blaze. Now is the time to go back to your schools and get to work.” 


Communion Service and Testimonies 

Student leaders were invited to wash one another’s feet in an act of humility and compassion to others and had the opportunity to partake in the bread and wine, symbols of Jesus’ body and blood. 

During the testimonials segment, one student told of the hardships of constantly moving and how she found a place of belonging and familiarity by joining an Adventist academy. She was able to find her place within the school community, even though her parents were in another country serving in the mission field. Another student spoke of wanting to have a greater feeling of acceptance in God’s love. He had accepted Christ but was constantly searching for acceptance from his Creator, finally finding solace through a local pastor and Bible studies. 


Participants Reflect 

Marelin Gonzalez Adames, Great Lakes Adventist Academy junior class pastor, said she is returning to campus ready to make a difference. “Before, the other two pastors and I wanted to make a change, but we would never actually come up with the necessary steps to get where we wanted to be. Now we’re planning to go back and help train the younger class pastors.” 

Jacob Capiña leads public relations for Hinsdale Adventist Academy student association.