It’s the dawn of the new school year, and with it come our beloved retreats. This year, the junior retreat got some major remodeling done to it. For the first time in a while, the retreat was not a search to find our definitions of success, but an actual camp trip. With the news came much excitement and anticipation from the class of 2014. Many questions arose. What will we be doing? Is it like the freshmen or senior retreats? Junior Julian Mowatt said of his thoughts before the retreat, “At first I had no idea what to expect when I heard about the retreat. I was a little skeptical because I didn’t know if we would be bonding like we did on the freshman retreat.” The anticipation was increased by the interesting request from our grade dean, Mr. Baer, to bring a pair of tube socks for a certain activity we’d be doing. Nonetheless, come Thursday morning, we were ready to finally find answers to our questions.
Throughout the two days we spent in Newark, IL, we did a lot of fun and engaging activities. First there was the obstacle course, which proved to be a fun time for most students, capped off by the treacherous rope-bridge, hovering over a giant pond full of muddy, algae filled water. After a few messes being made there, we were able to soak off in the camp’s lake and socialize. We even received a yoga class from one of the staff members at the camp, which was a great new experience for a lot of students. With the tube socks, we were introduced to an activity called “Poy”, in which you place a tennis ball in two tube socks and swing the socks around with a goal of experiencing something to get us out of our comfort zones. That may sound ridiculous, but it’s typically done with two ropes lit on fire by the end. Scary, huh? One of our guides at the camp showed us the way it’s actually done, leaving us in awe. The Poy exercise was enjoyed by all the students, and at times we got carried away and used them too much.
But it wasn’t all about the outdoor activities. As a grade, we met with the Dickson Valley Camp’s representatives, who administered a curriculum called “Quantum Learning Network”. This curriculum essentially taught us about how we should act ethically and how to live better lives. This sparked some mixed views from students, including Jake Schlossberg, who believes that the lessons were in a way “juvenile, patronizing, and in some cases, wrong.” He believed that “Rather than teaching us “don’t judge others” they taught us “don’t get judged by others.” I had a serious problem with this. High school students, in my opinion, are a very judgmental lot and, and often we don’t do the things we want because we fear judgment. The activities that they had us do only affirmed those fears, leaving a completely detrimental effect on us.” Regardless of the legitimacy of the lessons, it was a consensus that the time we spent in our advisories was a highlight of the trip. Dan Berkson said of the advisory time, “I thought the advisory bonding was a good experience for everyone I got a lot closer to people I thought I had done enough bonding with. I also learned stuff I didn’t know about my advisor, Mr. Layne. Overall the experience was a success.”
Personally, I loved the entire retreat. I think that every grade should experience every aspect of what we went through, whether good or bad, because of what you ultimately learn as a result. For me, spending time with my advisory and talking about issues/labels that were associated in our lives served as a setting in which I could speak with no hesitation, and I valued that more than anything. One thing’s for sure, this retreat brought our grade together, and should be a regular amongst the other retreats in the upper school.]]>