Senior Retreat Review


Lindsey DeBruin, Staff Writer

“What bus number are you on?”

“Please tell me that you’re in cabin Michigan 3 with me”

“Are you in group 13?”

These frantic flurry of questions between friends consumed the tall ceilings of the FHC auditorium. And as the number of familiar people I would interact with this weekend became fewer and fewer, panic started to set in. How was I to survive this Senior Retreat without the comfort of having familiar faces close by? I must admit that, for a brief second, I strongly debated on whether or not to rush to my car and speed away from the scary thought of meeting new people in the days that followed. Nevertheless, I decided to stick it out; a decision that proved to be one of the best I had made in a while.

“Why am I up so early?”

“I literally don’t know anyone in my group.”

“When do we get to go home?”

Upon getting off of our assigned busses, a first of many class meetings took place. Mr. Passinault stood in front of us and explained the events that would ensue but not without the collective groan from each one of us. There were questions of why our designated groups had to be random, why we couldn’t pick our cabin mates and why we had to do everything as a group.

After lunch, our numbered factions gathered as we each decided what our war paint was going to be, the beginning of the numerous activities of the weekend. I looked around to each of my fellow Group 1 members and a stereotype or rumor popped into my head like a stat bar with each face that I registered. I thought that I had already known everything, or at least the important things, about the people to my left or right. I thought that the judgements I had made about my peers were static and set.

“What classes are you taking this year?”

“Do you do any sports?”

“What colleges do you think you might want to go to next year?”

As we were forced to participate in activities with our fellow seniors, I began to see the social barriers that we had set dissolve. It became easier and easier to share a laugh or a joke with someone I had never even talked to before. It was so interesting to me that once we were separated from our so-called cliques we no longer were identified as a group but as individuals.

“Did you know that Sam Morse could sing that well?”

“I had no idea that Josh Hoiem was so funny.”

“Does Quinn Smith have his name written on the back of his shorts?”

After a lakeside, sunset bonfire it was time to watch the skits we had made earlier that Sunday. By this time of the day, the majority of us were the level of exhaustion that results in the glassy-eyed stare and the rest were too slaphappy to notice their fatigue. Packed like eggs in a carton, the class of 2016 sat in the Camp Geneva chapel among the hum of small talk. The first group of seniors took the stage and that’s when the hilarity began. I can genuinely say that I found every single skit I observed to be entertaining, and by the sounds of my classmates, they did as well. There was something to be said about how much more connected you can become with people after you are all belly-laughing, with red faces and sore abs. Though these skits did not just make us chuckle, but provided more knowledge about each individual more than any “icebreaker” game ever could. The seemingly quiet kid in the back of the room had the stage presence of a Las Vegas stand up comedian. The guy who you thought was only focused on school proved to have an unmatched sense of humor. The girl who acted too cool for participation most of the time ended up being one of the most involved people of the performance. The chance to see people adapt to unfamiliar situations and show off their little-known talents both surprised and elated us.

“I actually feel more bonded with people.”

“This is way more fun than I thought it was going to be.”

“(Insert name here) is super friendly.”

The shift in conversation from the beginning of our weekend adventure to the end was dramatic. Though I had my doubts early Sunday morning, the Senior Retreat had made me more willing to talk to an unfamiliar face, more willing to smile at someone I barely knew in the hallway, more able to get along with another person outside of my friend group. The Senior Retreat also made three more questions manifest in my mind:

“Why did we form these boundaries in the first place?”

“How did we spend so much time disconnected from each other?”

“How much harder will it be to leave these people after graduation?”