Auburn Introduces Academy Day Retreat

May 03, 2017 | Josie McKey

Auburn Adventist Academy (AAA) took on a new approach for Academy Day for prospective students this year by including a weekend retreat at Sunset Lake Camp in Wilkeson, Wash.

Fifty-six prospective students from Alaska, Oregon, California and Washington joined 12 current AAA students for a weekend retreat that led into a Monday morning campus-based Academy Day.

The vision was sparked a year prior when two Auburn students, returning from a recruiting trip, discussed ways the Academy Day experience could be enhanced for students coming from smaller schools throughout Washington Conference and beyond. Academy students started envisioning ways Academy Day could be a friendlier event for everyone.

“Because of the comments from the students, our department began discussions and we dreamed up the idea of a full weekend,” explains Jay Coon, AAA growth and development director. “We wanted it to be a spiritual, interactive event where kids would bond in friendship.”

Twelve AAA freshman and sophomore students were recruited to assist as mentors and facilitators for the small group interactions and other activities that continued throughout the weekend. Sabbath morning guest speaker Anthony Lyder, Anacortes (Wash.) Church pastor, reinforced the theme through personal stories and experiences.

Hearts were touched as kids shared their stories and became very real with each other. “I really enjoyed the weekend because I felt it really brought all us kids closer to each other and we all grew closer to God,” says one potential student. “It felt like I was a part of a great big family, that everyone truly cared about me as I cared for them. That was a great feeling.”

A student from Alaska says, “There were activities that got me out of my comfort zone, which was healthy for me, and I am glad for that. If you want to be somewhere where people are on fire for Jesus and striving to share His Word, then this is the place to be.”

“This weekend at Sunset Lake changed my mind about going to Auburn Academy,” reflects a prospective eighth-grader. “After being with the current academy students and hearing how the academy has impacted their lives and their experience with God, I changed my mind and I really want to go to Auburn Academy.”

AAA sophomore Shannon Miller shares, “To be honest, when I was first asked to go I was worried I would have to drag eighth-graders around and they wouldn’t listen to me, but I was wrong. I had to hustle to keep up with them. The whole weekend was very real; friendships were built so quickly. The weekend was emotionally, mentally and spiritually very uplifting. I was so glad I got to be a part of the experience.”

The outcome was a complete blessing — both for the current academy students and for the prospective students. Friendships were developed, and Academy Day was noticeably different as all the new kids felt surrounded by a school full of friends.