Every semester, Auburn Christian Fellowship rounds up their students and takes them to the beach for a weekend of fun and growth.
"It’s like 36 hours of undivided attention on just this community," said Nicole Lynch, the assistant campus minister, "A lot of students are bogged down with school and work and responsibilities, but they don’t have to worry about that here."
ACF visited Panama City Beach at Blue Horizon Lodge and Retreat on April 10-12 with about 115 students.
Where ACF students go, hilarity ensues
"Beach Retreat is by far the best thing about ACF," said Patrick Murphy, a senior in industrial design, "you don't have to worry about who said what or what that person will think, you just go out to the beach and have a blast!"
Each Spring semester, there are breakout sessions held throughout the weekend led by Big Dogs, which is the senior leadership group. Topics ranged this semester from finding God in science and understanding the storyline of the Bible to dealing with depression and how to cope with losing a family member.
"My favorite part of the weekend is seeing the seniors lead the breakout sessions," Lynch said, "it's amazing to see the impact you've made on these leaders over the years."
Freshmen on the ride home
There is the 36 hours spent on the beach together, but the car ride is just as important to Lynch. "It’s a four hour drive both ways so we are really intentional about putting students in cars with people they might not know in an effort to bring the community together more," said Lynch.
"We eat every meal together, we hang out on the beach together, we worship together, but mostly we’re just having fun together," said Abigail Bullinger, a senior in marketing.
Each student gets an encouragement bag
that is filled with letters from others
For the staff at ACF, the main goal is to build community and create lifelong friendships. "I met my now roommate when we got put in a car together our freshman year," said Murphy.
"You don’t have enough time on a normal week to really get to know everyone in the group," said Lynch, "but at Beach Retreat the Seniors can hang out with the Freshman and the Juniors with the Sophomores."
Finding a place to call home is sometimes hard when you are off at college, but when you look into the ACF community this stigma simply isn't true.
All photos used with permission.
Join the Auburn Family! Enroll at Auburn.