An active member of the youth group at St. James Episcopal Church in Ormond Beach, Pheona attended the latest “New Beginnings” youth spiritual retreat on Oct. 6-8 at Camp Wingman in Avon Park. She took time out to pen a letter to Camp Wingmann leaders at the request of Tracy Anderson, director of family ministries at St. James.
“Pheona is an active member of the youth group here at St. James,” Anderson said. “I often ask a youth to write a blurb for the congregation after we attend a retreat or a mission trip so that there is an understanding of the importance of these trips to our youth. Our congregation is very supportive of our youth, and we are very thankful!”
Pheona’s letter was then shared with Rev. Phyllis Bartle, one of the group leaders at “New Beginnings,” and it was subsequently shared on the Diocese of Central Florida Youth Leader Facebook page.
Here is the letter:
First-Time Experience at New Beginnings
By Pheona Novas
“New Beginnings was my first camp experience. I wasn’t very sure what to expect, but was excited anyway. I’m not generally open with my personal beliefs, although I happily will share my faith in God. New Beginnings gave me the opportunity to open up and share my deeper beliefs and feelings in a very non-judgmental setting. The camp counselors provided us with some unique activities that promoted our discussions about our faith, our families and about ourselves. We explored our beliefs and I personally grew stronger in mine.
The first night we arrived the counselors discussed how we should hang “our masks” on the wall; our masks being the persona we put forth versus the actual person we truly are. I found this extremely freeing. We were being given an opportunity to just be who we are with no judgment whatsoever. We were assigned to family groups, who we met with several times a day, to discuss various personal and religious topics. During free time we swam in the lake, played games and hung out with our old and new friends.
As for my first camp experience I give this an A+, minus the air horn that woke us up every morning.”