I'm back! So sorry for the lack of a post on Tuesday - things got really crazy before I left for my retreat and I wasn't able to get one scheduled every day I had hoped. Anyway, I'm finally home from my whirlwind of a senior retreat and I could not have more of a positive mindset for the year ahead. When alums said that this retreat was life-changing, I couldn't really wrap my head around why. Was it the fresh air and beautiful scenery of the infamous camp in Northern Wisconsin? Or the fun activities that challenged you out of your comfort zone? These things definitely contributed, but what made it so incredible for me was the relationships with my classmates, teachers and counselors. I bonded with people I haven't had the chance to get to know well, I met amazing camp staff, mended old relationships and deepened the bonds with my closest friends. Although I wouldn't consider myself a super naturey person, spending 3 days outside tackling challenging tasks was exactly what I needed at this point in the year to bring me back to reality. I could say so many things about how this retreat changed me for the better, but I thought I would talk about 3 of the things that impacted me the most.
+ Reaching out to new people
My school is pretty tiny (only 105 people in my grade) so you would think I would know everyone well, considering I've been there for 6 years now. I've gotten to know many people, but there are still a bunch I don't have classes with or haven't had the chance to really talk to. We were divided into 10 groups during the retreat and they made sure that we were with people we wouldn't normally talk to very much. Although I was apprehensive going into it, forming new relationships with people I see almost everyday was so rewarding (s/o to the #TresBrian group for making the retreat so fun!). There is a tradition that on the senior retreat we all do palankas, which are notes we write to people in our grade and put in their individual bag to take home at the end. Telling friends how much I appreciate them, apologizing for little things to classmates and reaching out to new people was really enjoyable for all of us, and it was really cool to see what nice things people had to say to each of us.
+ Challenging myself
The one thing that freaked me out more than anything going into the retreat was the high ropes courses, basically the bane of my existence. Fun fact about me: I am terrified of heights (weirdly, walls or things that go straight up are even worse for me). But, I decided that the new beginnings theme of the retreat meant that it was time to face my fear, and I ended up not only climbing a telephone pole (didn't make it to the top to jump off but hey that's progress amirite) but being hoisted high up in a harness swing and then quickly released. It was absolutely terrifying but I am so happy I can say I pushed through things that scare me the most.
+ Enjoying the outdoors
Everyone talks about how insanely amazing the camp is that we stayed at, and I had never been until this past weekend. It was so stunning during the fall, and I can only imagine how fun it would be to go there during the summer! This past year I have been making a conscious effort to get outside and do more activities, so waking up an hour and a half before breakfast and going on a hike around the camp with friends was such an unbelievable sight. Staying at the camp made me miss my middle school summer camp days, and also got me excited for the opportunities to study abroad in college!
We closed the 3 days with an apology circle and then a thank you circle, and it was so extraordinary for each person but also the grade as a whole. I would not trade the experiences I had at this retreat for the world and am so, so excited for the positive vibes it created for all of us to end our senior year!
To all my other seniors out there - do you have any bonding activities like this? How did it impact you?