As we started the first week of school, I had already been living on campus and living CBU life for almost a month.  For those of you who don’t know, I am an RA in West Colony. For three weeks we had training and prepared for all of our residents to move on campus. These weeks were packed full of sessions and staff bonding.  The days were long but extremely rewarding.

The first weekend that we were on campus all the staffs went on separate staff retreats. Let’s rewind to a few weeks before move-in day. West Colony staff received an e-mail from our boss, Ian, in which he stated his excitement for us to move-in and begin training. He also included two articles, one on fasting and the other on solitude, strongly encouraging us to read the articles before training. Fast forward a few weeks and we received another e-mail from our graduate assistant giving us a packing list, which consisted of the following:

- One change of clothes (make sure to bring pants and a jacket included in that)

- Re-usable water bottle

- Bible

- Journal

- Pens

- Flashlight (or headlamp)

- Sleeping bag

- Bug spray

- Closed-toed shoes

From the two e-mails I received I came to two conclusions:  First, we were definitely going camping. Second, we were going to be taking part in solitude and fasting.

We arrived in Big Bear around 10 p.m., when it was dark and cold. We were told to set up the two tents we had without talking—team bonding experience number one.  Putting up the tents went surprisingly well, and they stayed intact the entire weekend. We went to bed and after a long night of trying to get comfortable and stay warm, morning came. We got ready for the day and headed to our meeting spot, where we did a Bible study and were told the tasks we were going to complete for the day.  We were going to be fasting and partaking in solitude until 5 p.m., which amount to about seven hours.

Seven hours of solitude sounds like it would be awful, but honestly it wasn’t that bad. Here is what my time of solitude looked like: read my Bible, journal/pray, repeat. Seven hours seems like a long time to do these three things, but it was amazing. You see, the few weeks leading up to move-in day some crazy things had been happening in my life, and I wasn’t exactly wanting to talk to God about it. However, seven hours with just God and myself led to the interaction I needed. This time of solitude forced me to see what was really in my heart and how I really felt about things that were happening. It is amazing what God reveals to you when you just sit, read, pray, and be still. He revealed so many things to me that day, and it was wonderful.

After our time of solitude and fasting, we had dinner. This was probably the quietest meal we had throughout all of training because we were all starving, considering we had been fasting for about 24 hours. We played games and made s’mores for the remainder of Saturday night. Sunday we woke up early and headed down the mountain to Sandals for church, in all our camping glory.

That weekend grew us closer as a staff, even though we didn’t talk for most of it and also grew my walk with Christ. Solitude and fasting for a day was so much greater then I thought it would be. It was a great way to start off my last year here at CBU and helped me to start the year with a good mindset.