As I write this, it is Saturday morning and I'm sitting in the lobby of the Assembly Inn, talking with new friends as they get ready to depart from Montreat and head home. I'm actually sticking around for one more day to catch a David LaMotte concert, but will already be home by the time this appears on Monday morning. It's been an amazing two weeks.
I didn't make it to the Variety Show during my first week in Montreat, but went this past Thursday. It is traditional for the youth members of the planning team to host this event, and the youth for this particular planning team were more than up to the task. Just as we did when I was on the planning team back in 1992, they also got to lead in a couple of the morning energizers that Nick and Rachel usually did this week. The energizer that goes with "Istanbul" (as sung by They Might Be Giants) is a perennial favorite that I'm pleased to see is still popular 16 years later. In fact, that particular energizer might have been introduced at my conference, but I'm actually not sure (Obviously, I wouldn't have been the person responsible for that. If it was introduced during my conference, it would likely have been Steve Price that came up with it). That version of the song was released in 1990, so it's possible that a conference a year earlier (or two at the absolute most) might have come up with the energizer to go with it (indeed, it might not have even originated at Montreat at all!).
The Variety Show was particularly good this week, with many talented and entertaining acts. The show-stopper for me was an act done not by one of the youth, but by musician Jeffrey Harper. Throughout the conference, Jeffrey utilized a recording machine that enabled him to record a short bit of sound and play it in a loop. This made it possible to do, say, a bongo drum background while playing the guitar or the piano. For the Variety Show, Jeffrey layered several vocal elements, one-by-one, in front of the whole audience, until he was doing a full-fledged version of Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy." It was awesome!
Friday was the last day for the conference, and thus of my official reason for being in Montreat these past two weeks. Although most of the actual events were the same as last week (lessons, photo session for last Small Group meeting, candlelight service, etc.), the fact that I knew that I myself would be heading home soon added a bit of poignancy to the event. Then, at the end of the day, the Small Group Leaders, Planning Team, Work Crew, Summer Staff, and various other behind-the-scenes folks met for one last pizza party to celebrate the completion of not just this week of conferences, but of the "Theta" team's involvement. Lots of hugs and good-byes all around.
Then, on Saturday morning, folks started their way home. But it's not too quiet as I type this, since the "Omega" team and Small Group Leaders are already starting to arrive for their conferences, which will be going for the next two weeks. Part of me wishes I was sticking around to join them, but I'm also pretty tired of two weeks of such intense activity, so I'm ready to head home soon. Still, I hope that I can come back and do this again sooner rather than later. Nine years away from Montreat is far too long!