Guest Blogger: Tony Giannamore, Religious Life Intern

Growing up in the Methodist church, Lakeside was a place I would hear about every year, starting around the end of May until the second week of June, also known as Annual Conference time.

I experienced the community first-hand during my freshman year of high school, visiting for a weekend in the fall. It seems that visit still follows me to this day, as I feel the power that Lakeside holds as a retreat center for spiritual growth.

Lakeside is a place that is frozen in time. It is easy to see how it would stay the same as it was 50 or even 100 years ago. Lakeside is able to separate itself from the hustle and bustle of our crazy world, and it feels like time itself slows down while inside the gates.

You can create fond memories to carry with you for the rest of your life. Just look at the multi-generational families that visit for proof of that.

This safe, fun and quiet community gives guests and residents the chance to cultivate relationships with their family and friends, their religious communities and with God. The many Religious Life programs at Lakeside ensure that every age group is reached and given a place of worship. I’ve heard so many stories from guests who grew up in God Squad and are now sending their own children.

Part of my job as the Religious Life Intern is to help form a community of college students who want to tap into and grow in their spirituality. This is exactly what the College Station Bible study is working towards.

While looking at current events, we ask “How can we take what we learned tonight to carry out into our lives, both inside and outside of Lakeside?” One of my favorite topics was comparing the story of the Good Samaritan to homeless individuals who saved those injured in the Ariana Grande terrorist attack.

The Chautauqua experience is all about growing and learning and being able to form meaningful relationships. Watching the interactions between members within the Chautauqua Choir, families who come to the Wednesday Family Picnic every week, or even with my fellow interns, showcases that wonderfully.

It has been a very cathartic experience to immerse myself into the Lakeside community and witness the spiritual growth of our guests. I have enjoyed interacting with Lakeside, and I hope that everyone can find the power it holds as spiritual retreat as I do.

“Come unto me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28