GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - For more than 35 years, Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas has held a beach retreat during the summer. It's usually in Texas, but this year organizers choose to bring more than a thousand 13 and 14-year-olds to Biloxi and Gulfport to connect with God.
"Junior high is all about change: things change, family dynamics change, body changes," Second Baptist Church Girl's Associate Amanda Dixon said. "So I think it's vital we come here and really figure out who they are in Christ and get excited about that, because I think a lot of times they don't get that at home or school."
Every day at the retreat begins and ends with reflection.
"Our pastor really likes to emphasize and create an opportunity for our students to connect with God, in the morning and the evenings," Second Baptist Church Youth Staff Bennett Holloway said. "It's called silent sounds, and that's when every one of our students comes out here, reads a daily devotional, prays and start the day off right."
After silent time, it is all about fun and fellowship with friendly, but competitive, games like dodge ball and capture the flag on the beach.
"The world is telling us, being a believer isn't fun. You have all these rules you have to follow. We are all about good, clean fun," Dixon said. "We can still have fun and glorify God with that and it's important to teach our kids that."
"We go crazy," Holloway said. "Play dodge ball, play games, activities, run everyone ragged, hydrated but tired."
At the end of the week, the organizers hope the teens go home with a better understanding of who they are and a stronger connection with God.
"With everything going on in the world our kids need to disconnect and get back to the roots, basics and foundations and find out who they are in Christ," Dixon said.