Emily looked in the rearview mirror as she drove the five silent girls to the Back2Back team house. No one was talking, but their eyes were taking everything in. The five teenage girls from Tres Reyes knew each other, but one would think they were strangers as the ride to the Girls Retreat continued in silence.
As they arrived, they mingled with other girls from the Bonfil community and girls from the Cancun Strong Families program. Thirty girls, ages twelve and up, gathered at the Back2Back Team house in Cancun, Mexico to create bonds with others their age and learn what it means to live in the fear of the Lord.
“This is the third year we’ve done the girls retreat,” explains Emily Riggs, Back2Back Cancun staff. “We opened it to more than just the girls who were a part of programming or sponsorship – we wanted it to be a time for the girls to connect and learn together.
The first night was spent participating in ice breakers and making s’mores over a bonfire.
“You could see the nervousness melting away once the games started,” said Emily. “They began to open up to each other and become comfortable sharing and laughing together.”
The retreat’s spiritual theme, The Fear of the Lord, was led by a member of a partner church, Calvary. A woman spoke to the girls on four different topics: What does it mean to fear God? How does fearing God relate to my body? To my relationships? To my future? Afterwards, the girls broke into small groups and shared with each other.
The retreat also included times of worship and a craft time with each girl scrapbooking special pictures.
“We had reached out to each of the parents and asked for a few photos of the girls so they could make a small scrapbook while they were with us,” explained Emily. “The girls sat down at the tables and were really excited to have pictures of themselves; they dove into creating pages of memories.”
As staff members spent the weekend with the girls, they saw through swimming and scrapbooking a real camaraderie being born between them.
“We were able to make room for the girls to get to know each other, to develop deeper connections,” said Emily.
As Emily drove five of the girls back to Tres Reyes the following morning, the sounds in the car were more animated than before. Laughter and inside jokes rang off the walls of the van as each girl recounted the events of the weekend away.
Each girl returned to her home knowing more about the God who created her and counting it joy that she doesn’t have to do life alone.