Kid Volunteer Spotlight: Hannah Neely
One thing that makes Lighthouse Family Retreat so special is that families serve together, and kids especially play a key role on the volunteer team. They not only get to serve in the traditional sense—carrying plates, cleaning spaces—but their most important role is hanging out with all the other kids and creating a fun, welcoming environment for the kids of the Retreat Families. We thought it would be fun to interview some of these rock stars and share their insight and experience with you!
Note: Not sure what some of the Lighthouse terms below mean? Keep scrolling down for a little “insider language” tutorial! Then join us on a retreat and you’ll be “speaking Lighthouse” like a pro!
HOW OLD ARE YOU? 14
HOW MANY RETREATS HAVE YOU ATTENDED? 11
WHO USUALLY COMES TO SERVE AT LIGHTHOUSE WITH YOU?
My family and cousin typically come with me. We come with our church group, Journey Christian. We have also been able to bring lots of family friends to serve!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE EVENT AT LIGHTHOUSE, AND WHY?
I don’t have a single event that I would say is my favorite, but some great ones are the UnBirthday Party, Night of Worship and, of course, Flip Flop. These are all incredible moments to really connect with your family and grow closer and strengthen your relationships throughout the week!
TELL ME ABOUT A FRIEND YOU MADE AT LIGHTHOUSE. WHO WERE THEY? HOW DID YOU CONNECT? WHAT DID YOU LIKE TO DO TOGETHER? ARE YOU STILL IN TOUCH?
I have made tons of friends from Lighthouse—some Retreat Family kids and other volunteers from the week! We connected over Flip Flop, Conched Out, and especially Nine Square! We would hang out and do as much as we could together. I text with practically all of them on a daily basis!
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM ANY LIGHTHOUSE TRIP YOU'VE TAKEN.
This is such a hard question! I have so many, but one of my personal favorites was getting to see my friend (another volunteer) get baptized and it having such an impact that her Retreat Family girl decided to get baptized along with her! Another one would be all of the Nights of Worship. It is an optional night for the Retreat Families where they can choose to go eat out or do whatever they want, but most of them choose to come and worship the Lord with us!
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU DO WELL AT LIGHTHOUSE? WHAT GIFTS/TALENTS/QUALITIES DO YOU PERSONALLY BRING TO THE TEAM?
I think having a positive and flexible mindset is a key trait of people who serve at Lighthouse. The schedule changes constantly, so you need to be prepared for whatever may happen. I also think being fun and welcoming is another necessary characteristic, so the family walks into a judgement-free, relaxing environment where they won’t have to take care of anything for a week!
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR LIFE IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE YOU'VE SERVED AT LIGHTHOUSE?
I think my life has tremendously changed since I have served at Lighthouse. Something was pulling at my heart on the first retreat I did this summer, and it was so strong that I was baptized on the second retreat. I think it has also taught me not to take life for granted and to be grateful for everything, especially my health.
WHY WOULD YOU TELL OTHER KIDS THEY SHOULD COME SERVE AT LIGHTHOUSE?
I would tell them to come serve because it doesn’t feel like you’re doing chores—actually the opposite. Lighthouse is just like a huge week-long party at the beach with so many new life-long friends. You have so much fun, and I can’t imagine summer without it!
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT LIGHTHOUSE THAT YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?
Lighthouse is my favorite part of the summer, hands down! I’m so grateful that my family was introduced to it, and I hope you all will see what an amazing organization it is for yourselves!
Lighthouse Family Retreat Glossary:
UnBirthday Party: On Wednesday night during retreat, we get to celebrate birthdays for all the kids on retreat while the parents are gone for the night at Parent’s Night Out. We sing, dance, eat ice cream, and have LOTS of fun!
Night of Worship: On Thursday night during retreat, we gather under the tent or on the beach for a time of worship and celebrating all that God has done!
Flip Flop: This happens while the parents attend Common Ground and is a time for all the kids and volunteers to do crafts, swim, play games, and have fun—all together!
Retreat Family: These are our families living through childhood cancer who we are giving a week away from the chaos of cancer to experience rest, joy, restoration, and hope.
Conched Out: Much like its name, this is a time where you get to take a little break during the day on retreat. Conched Out is for the Retreat Families, the Family Partners (volunteers), and the staff to do whatever refuels and recharges them.