With skiing, sledding, tubing and other snow activities on the docket, the weekend was definitely one filled with outdoor adventure, but with equal emphasis on worship and Christian discourse the three-day retreat for youth also turned out to be a venture in spiritual growth.
“The energy around this time of praise, worship and fellowship was amazing,” said BC president, Dr. David Olive. “I was thrilled to see so many young people from churches all across Virginia being touched in meaningful ways as they deepened their faith and experienced tremendous fun outdoors and on the BC campus.”
In fact, some 72 teens made professions of faith during Winter Blast, recently dubbed the fastest growing youth retreat in the region. The commitments came during the evening sessions with worship leaders Eric Samuel Timm and Andy Kirk and after Christian music concerts with Seabird and B. Reith.
“Eric is a unique worship leader in that he reaches out to people for Christ through the arts,” said Kris Hardy, coordinator of BC’s Winter Blast. “He speaks and paints his message. As he speaks, he captivates the audience with live art creations.”
Kirk, who serves as worship leader for the second-largest and most innovative church in America, LifeChurch.tv, joined Timm in leading the worship at Winter Blast. A writer, singer and musician, Kirk shared faith messages from his music CD, “Wake Up My Soul.”
“Once again, a wonderful time for our youth,” said Robbie Spiers, youth leader from Kilmarnock (VA) Baptist Church. “The event was super organized, and the worship and concerts were moving, inspirational, and relevant to our kids. Plus, the skiing was…all I can say is ‘wow!’ It’s a great event for kids.”
The Winter Blast schedule also included concerts with Seabird and B. Reith. Dozens of local Christian music fans joined the overnight guests for the evening concerts, bringing the Winter Blast crowd to nearly 400 each night. Seabird, an alternative Christian rock band, whose soul-searching music has been featured on television’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Numb3rs,” and “Ghost Whisperer,” shared messages of hope in songs like “‘Til We See the Shore” and “Rescue.” B. Reith, a Christian rapper who speaks the relevant dialect of today’s youth, used his music to address real issues faced by teens.
“My number one passion is to connect with people, to entertain them, to stir up emotion in them, and to challenge them by sharing life from a different perspective,” said B. Reith. “There is something we’re all yearning for. I’m just trying to help direct our attention to it, and music is the most powerful way I know how.”
When not in worship, the Winter Blast guests took part in bonfires, pizza parties, inflatable games, and a unique dodgeball tournament. With more than 200 participants, the Winter Blast dodgeball adventure is the largest known dodgeball tournament in the two Virginias.
“Winter Blast is an awesome weekend with great worship, concerts, and a full day of skiing,” said another youth leader. “Bluefield College does it right. Our students love this event.”
Outside, the teens — from Roanoke, Richmond, Mechanicsville, Arlington, Charlottesville, and Virginia Beach, Virginia — took part in snowman-making competitions, sledding on BC’s infamous Dome hill, and creating their own snow.
“This year, we really wanted to create a unique experience for all the participants,” said Hardy. “So, anytime the kids were on campus the BC Ram was walking around with a hot chocolate backpack, serving hot chocolate to everyone. With our own snowmaking machine, we also made a pile of snow over three feet deep. Since most of the groups are from areas of Virginia that don’t see a lot of snow, we wanted them to have lots of snow to play in.”
The guests also spent a day skiing and tubing on the slopes at nearby Winterplace Ski Resort and its 28 trails, nine lifts, 90 acres of skiable terrain, and largest snowtubing park in the state of West Virginia. The entire weekend is one Hardy said requires lots of preparation and even more hands on deck.
“Forty-three people volunteered to help made this event a success,” he said. “There is no way we could ever pull off Winter Blast without the volunteers who gave up their weekend and worked a total of 335 hours before and during the event.”