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Illuminate Campus Ministry plans SpiritFest retreat in November

Devotional+on+a+boulder+at+Cumberland+Falls
Kendall Riley
Devotional on a boulder at Cumberland Falls

Leaders of the Shawnee State University student organization Illuminate invite their fellow SSU students to join them Nov. 17-19 for SpiritFest, a weekend retreat at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. The trip involves hiking, devotionals and chances to worship God and connect with others.

Many college students are drawn to this trip because they want to grow closer to God. The beautiful views of the waterfall and the thrill of an outdoor adventure with friends draw several Illuminate members to Cumberland Falls each year for this retreat. 

“SpiritFest is a weekend trip meant to draw you closer to God and your friends,” said Illuminate member McKenzie Penrod. “It’s a relaxed and fun way to grow in your relationship with God while exploring His creation.” 

She added that some of the benefits of going on this trip include “learning more about God’s awesome love for us, having bus karaoke, climbing really big rocks and building new friendships.”

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“SpiritFest is one of my favorite weekends of the entire year,” said Jacob Bowe, another member of the organization. “I’ve watched people come out of their shells and really make some deep friendships because of this trip. We hike, hang out, eat well and have devos (devotionals) that are real, honest and beneficial.”

The trip offers students a community and a spiritual adventure with hiking and spiritual growth. Students who are interested in this kind of opportunity can sign up at Innermission Campus Ministry or reach out to organizers on Instagram (@ssucampusministry). 

Ashley Smith, another member of Illuminate, said she loves the worship sessions.

“We’ve had some really great ones in the past years,” she said. “You feel closer to everyone and get to acknowledge who God is together. It’s awesome.” 

“Some of my favorite memories from SpiritFest come from the van ride,” Bowe said. “There’s nothing better than sitting in a van, doing karaoke with 12 other people who genuinely care about you. I also have great memories of sitting around the fireplace in the lodge just talking about life with my closest friends.”

Smith described SpiritFest as a “God-filled weekend that centers around community and growing closer in and with Christ. It’s at Cumberland Falls and we hike, hang out and just goof off. We stay at a beautiful lodge, and it’s just all around a great weekend.”

She added that it is important to bring layers of clothing and hiking shoes, as well as “a positive and adaptive attitude.”

Other necessities mentioned are clothes that you are willing to get dirty, about $75-100 for food, traveling clothes and maybe a blanket for traveling. The trip includes a lot of outdoor activities, so it is necessary to pack accordingly. 

“Literally anyone and everyone should come with us,” Bowe said. “If you don’t know Jesus, you can still come and experience a fun weekend and make some great friends. If you’re currently feeling like your faith has no fire to it, this is the perfect opportunity to be uplifted.”

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Kendall Riley
Kendall Riley, Staff Writer
Kendall Riley is a Scioto County native and a Christian who values positivity, kindness and service. Riley considers herself to have a strong work ethic and love of God, which she hopes has helped her stand out in a way that’s authentic to herself. Her childhood love of literature has helped Riley develop a strong mind and love of language that she carries with her today. Despite her struggles with anxiety in high school, Riley has had a support system of educators who helped her through. Riley’s experiences with the educators who have supported her, like her mom and her friends, have shown her how impactful the confidence of an educator can be for a student, and she wants to be part of that impact. Riley believes she is called to love and serve others, so teaching is the perfect career path for her, especially when she can help students through tough times. In her free time, Riley loves to sing and read, and she is a member of the Illuminate club at Shawnee. Though she never thought she would develop skills in journalism, Riley is excited to uncover and showcase the more interesting parts of Shawnee while spreading positivity.

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