By Samantha Seifert
After an exciting and stressful first two weeks of college, almost 300 freshman headed off to Sandy Hill retreat in North East, Maryland, where they were offered the time to meet new friends and grow closer to Christ. These students traveled to Sandy Hill together for the weekend retreat that took place from Friday, September 6 to Sunday, September 8.
A two hour bus ride, small living spaces, and the beautiful outdoors is how the first year students and sophomore leaders spent the weekend. Leading up to the retreat, sophomore campus ministry members, along with other members of the campus ministry, had been working hard planning the trip since March.
The sophomore leaders were split into two teams, the red team members planned all of the logistics of the retreat and the black team members were small group leaders and gave talks to the freshman on various topics. The sophomores help to make the retreat an enjoyable experience for all while they engaged first-years in discussion on challenging topics involving faith and religion. The leaders also lead games and formed relationships with the freshmen in their groups.
This year’s theme was “Unwritten,” and many of the talks and activities followed this theme of writing a new story on a journey with God. The theme allowed students to think about their future with God, especially in their college career.
“As a leader, it has been such a blessing to grow with all these freshmen,” said Fernando Cordova, a sophomore leader. “I hope freshman got something out of it and we all continue to be children of God.”
For the first years, the experience is entirely different from the sophomores. The sophomores felt excited for the weekend, while many of the freshmen expressed feelings of nervousness.
The retreat allowed freshmen to meet other members of their class who share a similar interest in their faith for a fun-filled weekend away from campus.
First-years were able to experience their own journey in faith as they shared about their faith life in small groups while being able to relax and have some fun after a stressful first two weeks of college. Freshmen were able to play volleyball, go canoeing, swim in the lake, and play a game of “gagaball” while on the retreat.
Many of the freshmen expressed that they enjoyed the experience and were grateful for their time away from campus.
“This was my first retreat ever and it really allowed me to feel comfortable to open up and be vulnerable in a completely new environment,” said freshman Andrea Connelly.
The freshman retreat was well loved by both the freshman attending and the sophomores planning. The freshmen were able to follow along with the theme of “Unwritten” by starting to write their own stories.