Archive for May, 2012

The Hunger Games movie

The Hunger Games mania has taken over YMCA Blue Ridge!

The Hunger Games is a young-adult action/drama film directed by Gary Ross. The film, released in March 2012, is based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins. Filming sites for the movie were locations around Asheville and Black Mountain, including Dupont National Forest and the Burnett Reservoir, just a few miles from the Assembly. Many local residents and even some Blue Ridge staff members were featured as extras in the film!

In honor of this literary heritage, several area middle schools are reading the book as part of their curriculum. Even more exciting is that many of them have booked class field trips this spring with a Hunger Games theme…and have discovered YMCA Blue Ridge to be the perfect site for this thrilling occasion! The youth are scheduled to participate in various adventure programs which mirror the plot of the book: archery, wilderness survival, and team-building high among the trees on the Odyssey Course.


Nature Exploration

Odyssey Course

Here are some great testimonials from our young participants so far!

“I felt as if I was training for the games with an ally.”  -Anana
“The survival activity taught me what is valuable in the wilderness.”- Taylor
“The Odyssey taught me that I can do anything if I try.”  -Kyle
“I felt like Katniss shooting, and then missing the squirrel. I experienced/endured so much I actually felt like was in an actual Hunger Games training session.”  -Jessica
“It was one of the best field trips I have ever been on.”  –Andrew
“I had a great time and I actually learned a lot.”  -Mackenzie


On the weekend of April 12, the Program Staff had a nice surprise from a group of youth climbing the Alpine Tower. The group, ages 9-17, were part of the Apex/Cary Rope Skippers, who include many members of the Cary YMCA Super Skippers from Cary, North Carolina. Last year the Cary Super Skippers won 2nd Place in Overall Freestyle and tied for 2nd Overall Team at the 2011 USA Jump Rope National Championship in Galveston, Texas!

The Rope Skippers were visiting as part of the Spring Physical Education Leadership Training conference,  sponsored by the North Carolina Alliance for Health, Athletics, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. SPELT  is one of the premier K-12 physical education forums in the country and this year celebrated their 40 anniversary at Blue Ridge!

The energetic and athletic youth also visited several local elementary schools to perform their award-winning jump rope routines, and after their climb treated our staff to a private showing. Here are some great photos from the field:

To see the young skippers in action, visit their YouTube page!


Read Full Post »

On April 14-15, 2012 we welcomed 13 local cancer survivors for a weekend of relaxation and spiritual renewal in partnership with Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG Foundation.

During the retreat there were many opportunities to experience fun and fellowship in our peaceful mountain setting. It was our goal to encourage the hearts and restore the souls of these special guests. Participants were able to share and reflect with other survivors on their personal experiences in the battle with cancer.

In addition to spiritual encouragement in the form of prayer and  meditation, there were several guest speakers, workshops and recreational activities: We reflected on our journies by making healing collages with Katie Warren, we were moved to laughter and tears by the drama of Jim and Carol Shores, and wandered the paths of the Assembly and took in the inspirational beauty of God’s creation. Also…

We laughed with Kelly Gibson and learned from Dr. Williams of the Hope Center

We indulged our taste buds with a “high tea,” British-style

We enjoyed s’mores and the company of new friends at the evening campfire

Here is a recent Devotional from our Chaplain, Owen Lovejoy, the Project Manager of the LIVESTRONG initiative at Blue Ridge Assembly:

“Behold, two disciples were going that very day (Easter Sunday) to a village named Emmaus.” Luke 24:13

Prior to the retreat, our staff joined together in prayer asking that God would do for our LIVESTRONG guests what He did for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: walk by their side, encourage their hearts and renew their hope. I am thrilled to testify that God answered our prayers! Although we expectantly planned activities for a meaningful weekend, they would have profited nothing if God had not come among us to love and bless us.

A few comments quoted from participant evaluations will attest to God’s activity in our midst.

    • “I feel much better after this weekend . . . a real blessing for us all.”
    • “Great fellowship with God and others!”
    • “(This weekend) left us all recognizing the power of God’s love and forgiveness.”
    • “(The weekend) helped us on our journey of survivorship and reminded us of the importance of God’s love in all our lives.”
    • “It was a time of spiritual healing, physical rest and rejuvenation, and a message of hope!”

People other than cancer survivors travel difficult roads. Times of sorrow and loss burden most of us at some point in our lives. If you find yourself on a journey filled with despair, I pray that the discovery of Jesus’ abiding presence will fill you with inexpressible joy and everlasting hope. Amen!

Read Full Post »