This year we will be celebrating our 36th Surrender, one of the oldest NA functions in the Southeast. Surrender has had a great history of survival as many of us also have experienced. Shortly after the very first Surrender, the second annual event did not happen, however I'm not sure why and may be mistaken as to the actual year, but then continuously after that Surrender has taken place.
Surrender has always been held at Cheaha State Park except for two years and has always been heralded as a Spiritual Retreat and not a convention. From its inception, it was designed to be a retreat where the fundamental purpose was to allow addicts to commune in order to enrich their spiritual development.
I cannot speak to its earlier days in the middle and early eighties, but I have had great and fond memories of the nineties till the present; my first was in 1993. I traveled to my first Surrender by myself as a loner. I wrestled with spirituality and being a "part of." That weekend changed it all! No more trips alone; from then on with a newcomer, my sponsor or my spouse.
The two years that our retreat was not held on the mountain was due to construction from weather devastation and the park was being renovated. Those two years we spent at Lake Point State Park on Lake Eufaula. It was ok; but not the mountain.
It was through this event that I really began to develop my NA family and network. In 1993, the main meetings were held in a large circus tent located in the primitive camping area. Meals and workshops were held at the lodge. My 1st Saturday night at the event was punctuated from the loud roar of machines coming up the mountain, and then into the park; to end at the lodge. I had never seen so many motorcycles in one place; and they were ridden by recovering addicts. This was the case in the following years prior to the temporary move to Lake Point.
I can remember the move back to Cheaha was punctuated for me by the pre-tee that simply said "We're back on the Mountain." It was better; a whole lot better, but the lodge wasn't available for use. We met at the pavilions and served meals in the picnic pavilion. The dates fluctuated from early September to late November and I believe that one year Surrender was held the first week of December, due to a hurricane.
A few years ago, the Surrender Committee decided to move the event back to the lodge as the location for speaker meetings, workshops, meals and lodging. Some members approved of the move while others disagreed. Most members however do agree that Surrender is still Surrender, no matter where we are on the mountain; as long as we stay on the mountain.
I had the honor to be Surrender Chair and it left an indelible spot on my heart and soul; so much so that just typing this statement causes deep emotion in my heart. This event has been so important in developing my purpose, not only in NA, but in life. So many of those "ah ha" moments have been on the mountain at Surrender; so much so, that this addict had thought I had done everything I needed to do to recover, only to find that , not through chemical relapse (although it probably would've happened if not for divine intervention), but a relapse of the "Ego" did occur and brought to my attention that "Service" was a saving grace when used constructively. Excuse my digression!
What has been constant throughout the history of Surrender is the creativity, diligence and volunteerism this retreat exemplifies. Many hours of planning, putting together registration packs, providing meals and a program to help enhance an addicts spiritual journey through the steps of Narcotics Anonymous. An event truly dedicated to carrying the message of hope and recovery; not just by word and fellowship, but by presence in nature and the natural beauty of a world uncluttered with traffic and shopping centers; just the trees, the sky and whatever you want to call your Higher Power.......OH What a Feeling!!!
Thirty five years and we still "KEEP COMING BACK." So, if you want to help the still suffering addict by carrying the message of hope and recovery from active addiction; get involved and be a part of this Spiritual Retreat called "SURRENDER IN THE MOUNTAINS". You will never be able to put a value on your return; it will be too great to fathom, I know!