During the weekend after Labor Day, women from around the conference (and beyond) get together at Camp Ida-Haven. It’s a time of retreat, study, inspiration, great food (that they don’t have to make) and fun. This year was no exception.
The retreat returned with greater numbers, even though attendance was still capped at 100. For the first time in recent memory, the retreat sold out before the end of July.
Brenda Walsh was the guest speaker. This year’s theme was “Keep Calm and Pray On.” The decor was a pajama party atmosphere, symbolizing the intimacy that prayer brings. On Sabbath morning, Joyce Biggs brought us her portrayal of Hannah.
Sabbath afternoon usually has breakout sessions. One of them this year was given by Laqueta Tomlinson, former women’s chaplain at a women’s prison in the Boise area. She has a passion for opening a transitional house for women who have been newly released from prison, to help them develop the skills they need to thrive in the world. Without places like that, many women end up returning to prison. The mission emphasis this year was to assist Tomlinson with funding for this passion.
Saturday night had a variety of activities. For those who were brave enough or who wanted to see others being silly, there was a pajama parade. Fifteen ladies participated. Pajamas ranged from comfy flannels to cute teddy bears and even hair rollers and avocado face masks, reminiscent of the '50s. It was great fun. Before the pajama parade, two ladies surprised their friend with 50 gifts brought by several of the ladies in honor of her 50th birthday. The evening ended with Walsh signing copies of her newest book, Strength for Today, for the ladies.
Brenda Walsh had given each attendee a homework assignment on Friday evening. The ladies were to write a prayer request on a piece of paper and fold the paper in half three times. There was a box to collect these prayers. No one would see them, except God.
Following the last meeting on Sunday morning, everyone gathered around the campfire in the cabin circle. Daniel Jenks, operations manager for the camp, helped burn the box of prayer requests. While the ladies knew that they didn't have to do something like that to get God’s attention, it was a great way to symbolize the release of those requests and unburdening by visually giving them to God, similar to the ascending of incense in the Old Testament tabernacle.