Treat Yourself to a Retreat

Aidan Sarazen

Every year Latin sends each grade on a retreat at the beginning of every school year. Each retreat, meticulously planned, sets a different theme for the school year. But the question remains, did this year’s retreats fulfill the goals Latin had for its students?

Senior Retreat:

For Seniors, their last retreat is concentrated on being one of their last opportunities to bond. Past stories about the Senior retreat tell of students becoming emotional because of the way the retreat makes them cherish their peers. I tried obtaining as much information as I could about the Senior retreat, but many of the Seniors who I interviewed suggested that it may be better if I didn’t reveal too much about the retreat. They didn’t want to spoil the experience for the rest of Latin’s high schoolers. I talked to Senior Jonah Glick about the retreat, and he said that “some excellent bonding definitely went down, but [he’d] feel guilty if he ruined the surprise for the other grades.” Clearly, the Senior retreat is an event to look forward to.

Junior Retreat:

The Junior retreat is focused on ways of dealing with stress, because at Latin (along with the majority of high schools), Junior year is typically the most demanding. Unfortunately, the uncontrollable variable of heat tested many of Latin’s Juniors, putting a damper on the effectiveness of the experience. During the retreat, most of the activities took place outside, making midday a difficult time to work. For junior Alex Goff, “the heat was unbearable at times.” It forced the Junior grade from the scorching outdoor activity centers to the cool inside. Unfortunately, the heat put many Juniors in a sour mood, which detracted from the goal of having a calm, stress-free retreat. With many of the other Juniors that I talked to, I found that they believed that the retreat was not effective because it focused on the wrong ideas. Junior Claudia Johns thinks that “it was not the stress-relieving retreat that the grade needed, but a retreat for bonding.” A lot of my peers found it difficult to concentrate during sessions where we talked about the aspects of life that made us most stressed. Maybe it was the Junior grade’s lack of desire to participate in the retreat’s activities, or maybe the retreat activities were just not engaging; either way, for the vast majority of Juniors, the retreat did not lower their stress levels or change their outlook on dealing with pressure.

Sophomore Retreat:

Normally, the Sophomore retreat is dedicated to community service (a logical idea, as Sophomores have to complete a minimum of 20 hours of community service). This year’s Sophomore retreat, however, differed from past Sophomore retreats in that it decreased its focus on service. Rather, the retreat centered on having each advisory bond, as students are placed into new advisories Sophomore year. On the first day of the retreat, the Sophomores traveled to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where they took part in a host of different games and activities with their advisories. Sophomore Simon Ricci felt that the “retreat helped him bond with his advisory, but not with the entire grade.” In hearing from more Sophomores, it seemed as if their retreat was much more effective in achieving its goal than the Junior retreat, as the Sophomores were able to connect with their fellow advisees.

Freshmen Retreat:

The Freshman retreat is centered around bonding, which makes sense, because almost half of their grade is made up of new kids. When I talked to Freshmen about their retreat, many of them complained about the bugginess. Apparently the humidity was an issue, and Latin students found themselves getting bitten up. Additionally, the Freshmen did not have much fun outside of the planned events during the day. The games meant to help them bond left many of the students bored. Out of all four retreats, the Freshmen retreat may be the most important, because the incoming class is unfamiliar with each other. Fortunately, the retreat did not conclude  without a connection finally sparking between the Freshmen. When I asked Freshmen Clay Canfield about the experience, he immediately told me that “it was the free time during the campfire at night when most of the bonding occurred.” Interestingly enough, the most effective part of the Freshmen retreat happened when the students were left alone by their teachers and instructors.

Latin’s Freshmen are on to something. The retreats that the school plans so carefully are only as successful as the students want it to be. No matter how fun, compelling, or worthwhile these retreats may seem, it is completely up to the Latin students to determine their effectiveness.