Retreat reorganized for ‘freshman escape’

By Laura Van De Pette
December 3, 2004

Courtesy of Ashlee Lensmyer

Fifteen freshmen, six group leaders, two staff chaperones, three motivational talks, 24-hours of reflection and 450 acres of secluded Pocono Mountain beauty equal one amazing Freshman Escape. The newly revamped first-year retreat was accordingly renamed the Freshman Escape as it offered freshmen an escape from all the term papers and final-exam studying that has been consuming their dorm-room desks. The Freshman Escape rescued the students just in time on Nov.12-13.

The 24-hour escape was more than just an excuse to close the freshmen’s text-books. The escape offered freshmen the opportunity to expose their true self to fellow class-mates and leaders, while reflecting on their first semester at Cabrini College.

Lauren Campbell, a freshman accounting major, said, “I found myself exposing the real me to people who didn’t even know my name. I felt a surprising closeness with the other freshmen that I never expected.”

The freshmen emphasized the importance of being open to surprises and reflection. Freshmen George Post, an English and communication major, said, “I went into the weekend skeptical. I was thinking it would just be a fun day and a way to meet some new faces. I’m in disbelief at how wrong I was. The kind of closeness the freshmen and the leaders felt was unbelievable.”

To break the ice, three leaders spoke on different topics. Senior group leader Ashley Lensmyer spoke about life before Cabrini College. She related the transition from high-school to college on a spiritual level. A talk on what it is like to be a freshmen and what it is like to be a senior were also heard. Stefanie Ciarrochi, a senior special education and elementary education major, said, “I went into the escape with the mindset that I was a leader. After opening up to the freshmen and the sense of closeness that was felt, I couldn’t help but feel like a retreatant.”

For many of the leaders the escape was a first for them as well as the freshmen. Junior JT Turtzo, a business administration major, said, “This was my first major leadership role. I was able to help them through my past experiences as a freshman.” Jess Watson, Ashley Lensmyer and Stefanie Ciarrochi were all first-time retreat-leaders.

Although some of the leaders were experiencing the escape for the first time, junior Read De Sabato, an English and communication major has been a part of the first-year retreat for three years. DeSabato said, “The past two years have been disorganized. The retreat has been held at a shore-house in Wildwood and nothing inspiring came out of the weekend.”

The leaders and freshmen retreatants agreed this year was an awesome experience. “The leaders were totally prepared and every freshman had an open mind. All 15 of the retreatants wanted to be there and wanted to participate,” DeSabato said.

The secluded grounds of The Country Place, where the escape was held, offered everyone the opportunity to bond. “There was no one there but the 23 of us,” said Laura Gorgol, Campus Minister and first-year retreat-planner.

The theme of the escape was “Times like these,” a song by the Foo Fighters. “We played the song so much during the escape. It could be heard blaring from all ends of The Country Place!” said De Sabato.

Freshmen George Post said, “When I got home on Saturday, I downloaded ‘Times like These.’ The song just reminded me of the awesome bonding experience.”

Francine Clement, a freshman sociology major, said, “Being secluded at The Country Place and being away from everything at Cabrini was key to the retreat. I could say anything and I could do anything.”

The leaders and retreatants did reflect a great deal on their feelings toward their first semester, but they had loads of fun too. “The food was phenomenal! The Country Place was so nice, I didn’t even want to touch anything,” Campbell said.

“Oh and we had s’mores, a late night dance party and midnight walks,” Gorgol said.

Although the turnout was much higher than the past two years, many first-year-students feel the retreat is a day of prayer. The escape is quite different though. The escape encourages freshmen to simply be themselves in a secluded environment. Through their truthfulness they will disclose their real self. “It’s a powerful experience that bonds everyone together, whether you are a leader or a retreatant,” Ciarrochi said.

The leaders and freshmen were in unanimous agreement that the escape was a high-point of the semester and was exactly what they needed to stay focused for the remainder of the semester. “It was definitely an awesome weekend but if I could change one thing, the escape would be 48-hours long!” said Lensmyer and Gorgol.

The Search Retreat, which is open to students of all grade levels, will be held Feb.11-13 at The Country Place. If any student is interested in a mid-semester break and meeting new faces, you are encouraged to contact Laura Gorgol, campus minister, at extension 8225 or stop in the Wolfington Center and say, ‘hello.’

Posted to the web by Shawn Rice

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Laura Van De Pette

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