This post was authored by Phil Pharoah, Youth Pastor at Uxbridge Baptist Church.

Hey fellow Youth workers! My name is Phil, and I am the Youth Pastor of Uxbridge Baptist Church in … you guessed it Uxbridge, Ontario! It truly is one of the greatest things in the world, to come alongside the next generation and help them to discover who God made them to be.

In youth ministry we know that retreats are one of the BEST ways we can connect a student to Jesus. Retreats give us almost 48 uninterrupted hours to build relationships, encourage growth, and dive deeper into God’s word. Avalanche and Blizzard are a step above a normal retreat because all we need to do is show up and build relationships! But what about those students who just aren’t ready to jump on a bus and head 2+ hours away from everything they know? How do we help them, come along side them and encourage them?

For our Quest group (grade 6-8) we recently introduced a one-day retreat called Mayday. Our hope and our desire as a leadership team was to pack as much of a retreat as we could into one Saturday, and hold it in a place all our students knew ie our church! This way we could show them all the amazing things you get to do on a retreat without ever leaving Uxbridge. My entire roster of Questers showed up! It was an incredible time building relationships and encouraging them all to take steps in their relationship with God. We’re hoping that this experience will help our Questers feel comfortable, confident, and ready to come with us to bigger retreats like Avalanche.

In the fall, we do an overnight trip, somewhere close by. We have the privilege of using Willow Springs Camp fifteen minutes away from Uxbridge. You can also do this at a hotel if a retreat centre isn’t close enough. This is a great chance to stretch our Questers, and give them a bit more of a “retreat” experience. We do it within a short drive from town so that if Questers feel uncomfortable, or don’t want to stay over, they can still experience the retreat. This again widens the comfort zone of our Students, and allows us more relational time, to get to know them. Each mini retreat we host has the main goal of getting them ready for the big retreats we love as youth leaders, where we head off deep into the wild and have so much uninterrupted time getting to know students.

If you want more information on what we did, my “planning guide” for our retreat, or to chat more about youth ministry, send me an email at

You’re doing an amazing Job,

Phil Pharoah