It was my first visit as a national advisor, and a trip to Florida was the best way to kick it off. Although it was difficult to get there, and the airfare wasn’t cheap nor the airplanes on time, it was definitely worth every second I got to spend with the BYX brothers of the Upsilon Chapter at the University of Florida. The timing of my visit couldn’t have been any better since it allowed me to attend their full member retreat, giving me ample amount of time with all of the members at once.
I left Friday night from a cold Oklahoma and made it to a pleasantly mild Florida, getting picked up by Vice President Ed Avery. Spending time with Ed and catching up was a blast, up until we got lost trying to find our way to the campsite. Shout out to Google Maps for thinking that a road we were on took us directly to the campsite when in reality it was a dead end. Real cool. So after we navigated our way through some creepy back roads and sketchy terrain, Secretary Chris Schwab guided us safely to the campsite. All of the members fit into one house, which allowed me to meet the guys and memorize their names quickly that night.
After Chaplain Roger Williams and President Carrington Price ran over the member retreat schedule, I was a little confused why the word “cobra” was mentioned several times. I mean, I can handle snakes. I’m not afraid of them or anything, but Florida must be on another level if their activities involve cobras.
After finally asking the group what “cobras” meant, I realized that the actual meaning of the word was a lot cooler than having real life snakes. Traditionally at the Florida Chapter’s retreats, a huge spiritual-growth chunk of retreat rests on pairing up with another brother to talk through things discussed in meetings and to pray together. You are paired up with a co-bra…and this co-bra idea is LEGIT. Not only does it allow for every member to get deep with another bro that they typically don’t spend a lot of time with, but it also allows for the spiritual discussions (or topics) presented at full retreat to sink in and be applied to our individual lives. It was an amazing opportunity to sharpen one another, push each other towards Christ and unify the brothers. This cobra experience was the first great taste of brotherhood that the Florida guys had. Now the second taste was slightly different…
After having a bomb cobra time (shout out to Alex Minardi, my cobra), we spent the rest of the night playing my new favorite game: Mafia, which they called Bodies. This game was addicting, and after playing it over and over again, it really helped me to see all of the guys personalities come out. Although it was a game of deception, it was one of the best games I have played in a long time. Even though I was a newbie, I did win as the mafia (with Roger) one time, which was a difficult task.
Saturday was a beautiful day and packed with a lot of activities. The morning started off with pancakes (always a good choice) and then a worship session outside. Afterwards, I was able to talk in front of the guys and share a little bit about myself and the impact BYX has had on my life. I was thankful for their receptiveness to my story and to my words of encouragement to their chapter. These guys have such great hearts, and I could already see such awesome potential in them after only a day.
The rest of the day was packed with cobra meetings, running around outside, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, playing soccer, sweating a lot (the humidity didn’t help) and going to the camp zoo. This little zoo was way more legit than it should be. It had two black panthers, a big black bear, a white tiger and regular tiger, several cocky peacocks (see what I did there?…but for real…they wouldn’t stop showing off…), two lion cubs and a memorable capuchin monkey. The way it showed its affection for Larry Davis was a little too weird. And I will leave it at that.
The night was ended with a skit competition, which was probably the most hilarious event the entire night. I was impressed by the creativity of every guy and was blown away by the guys who were normally shy to get up on stage and act. It was a really cool way to get brothers out of their comfort zone and have fun together. Props to these guys!
Sunday was a good day to chill before I went back home. Although it was rainy, I was able to get a campus tour via car by Ed and see the legendary BYX house where all the bros hang. I even got to take a nap on Dean’s old bed in his special corner. I felt really privileged.
I finally had to say my goodbyes and head to the airport. On the way back, I realized how much fun I actually had. On my first trip, I was able to get to know the brothers on a deeper level, live life with them, have a blast and grow spiritually. I couldn’t thank the Florida Chapter enough for allowing me to come to their full retreat and join in their brotherhood. It is a memory I will never forget. This chapter has huge potential. I am excited to continue to work with them and to see them grow as men of God and as a thriving chapter of BYX.