I went to Rock-N-Water a couple years ago with my church’s youth group and I couldn’t pick a better place to grow in my faith and friendships. I still hold on to the bonds I was blessed to make with my friends, how much I got to get closer to God, and how I was able to truly experience Him through His beautiful and majestic creation while at Rock-N-Water. Three experiences stuck out to me the most.

One of the biggest experiences that stuck out to me was not having mirrors to get ready with or clocks to tell us what time it was. Even though I didn’t care much about what I looked like anyway, I started to learn and realize how much we rely on what we look like in our society and how easily we revolve our lives around time rather than God. Not having access to either of those “necessities” helped my heart to be stilled throughout the entire trip so I could focus on what was truly important; my relationship with God.

camper sits on boulder in back country on hike

During the daytime adventures I loved to see the great work of my Savior’s hands. Bouldering through the river gave me a free, childlike feeling that I’ve never been able to find anywhere but Rock-N-Water. The day we went bouldering, we found a quiet place near the shore with many rocks along the stream. Our youth leader told us to pick a spot alone and just spend some quiet time with the Lord. They didn’t tell us how long it would be or what time it was, only that we should really try to focus on Him. I picked a big rock that was partially in the water and sat looking at the rushing stream. It was one of the first times that I learned the importance of sitting quietly in the presence of God. My relationship grew immensely through the lessons I learned from spending time outdoors in God’s creation.

My favorite experience of being at Rock-N-Water was sleeping under the stars. Looking up at the vast, starlit sky gave me the realization that God is much bigger than make Him out to be. He showed me how much I would put Him in a tiny box and underestimate His great love for me. But seeing shooting stars fly by every single night as I was praying in my warm and cozy sleeping bag gave me comfort that no matter how big the problems are that I face in my life, God is bigger and He cares about me and even my struggles.

starry sky with Milky-Way galaxy behind silhouette of trees

My experiences at Rock-N-Water helped me to treasure time with God and appreciate His beautiful creation. It especially gave me a new love for the stars and alone time with Him. If I had the chance to go to Rock-N-Water again, I would do it a million times over.

By Sydney Sykes: 2015 Writing Contest