The Oaks Retreat is an event during the summer that helps incoming freshmen get involved in local churches. This 3-day retreat introduces freshmen to several college ministers. It also provides them with an easy way to get involved in a ministry. This past summer was the first time the Oaks Retreat occurred after a nine year dream from a local pastor.
Holli Denham, a member of leadership for the Oaks, explained how the Oaks was started through First Baptist Opelika’s college ministry. Their pastor had thought of this concept for about nine years and finally was able to make it happen. Through prayer and many opportunities, the Oaks Retreat was able to occur.
This past summer, the Oaks Retreat happened in July at Shocco Springs, Talladega. A leadership team made up of 12 students as well as over 40 counselors made this retreat possible. When asked why she got involved, Denham said “I really just felt the Lord pulling on my heart to be a part of it.”
The retreat involved worship, speakers, fellowship and small groups. Worship was lead by college students in order to allow the freshmen to feel more connected. Speakers included ministers from several local churches including First Baptist Opelika and Campus Crusades. Students were also placed in small groups called family groups to connect on deeper levels with other freshmen as well as counselors.
Counselors for the retreat were chosen through an interview process and had several days of training. One of the most important guidelines for these counselors was being open and honest with the freshmen. Counselors were encouraged to share their testimony with students in order to grow on a more personal level.
“My experience at the Oaks Retreat was better than I ever could have expected,” said Lindsay Rife, a counselor for the retreat. “With it being my first time as a counselor, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, my freshmen were very open to encouragement,” Rife said.
The Oaks Retreat was a great experience for everyone involved. Denham, who was in charge of finances, even saw God’s glory behind the scenes.
“It was such a blessing and I got to really see the Lord’s faithfulness through provision of the money,” Denham said.
Denham explained how “church shopping” was a common activity for freshmen. The Oaks Retreat tries to aid in this process and eliminate wasted time spent at ministries students don’t connect with. By introducing students to different Auburn and Opelika churches, students can continue to grow in their faith as soon as they move to Auburn.
“I am very thankful to be a part of the first Oaks Retreat because I could see lives being affected,” Rife said. “I think this year’s freshmen could make a huge impact on Auburn’s campus."
The Oaks Retreat was a success and will be happening next summer. Registration is available on the Oaks Retreat website for incoming freshmen. Information concerning interviews for counselors will be available at a later date. For more information, visit the Oaks website at the link below!