Superb Sophomore Shabbaton at Emery/Weiner
A group of ruddy eighth graders departed for their annual middle school retreat in September 2019. Little did they know that this trip to Camp Young Judaea would be their last until October of 2021. Now sophomores in high school, the Emery Weiner class of 2024 recently embarked on their first class trip in two years, a retreat to Camp Lutherhill. This three-day retreat was filled with fun and meaningful activities giving the students the opportunity to bond.
Casey Fleming, the director of experiential learning at Emery/Weiner, firmly believes that weekend retreats, such as this one, are majorly beneficial for students.
“Students learn best when they feel like they are in a beloved community, when they feel like they have the support of faculty and students, when they know each other,” she explained. "Learning is embodied, by which I mean you do it not just with your brain but with your body and in relationship to other people. These kinds of trips are huge in terms of creating the right type of environment for rigorous learning and for risk taking and for creative challenges for students.”
Ultimately, she explains that grade-level retreats are very important for learning some of the soft skills we talk about in high school. "They teach you how to be relational, how to have friendships, how to be a leader amongst your peers, how to overcome adversity - and these trips are sort of these intensive moments for that, and we hope the effects of that bleeds out into other aspects of their academic life.”
Students agree with Fleming on the importance of retreats, specifically because they do not have cell phones, giving them a chance to disconnect and bond with one another.
“It has been two years since I have been able to go on a trip with my classmates, so this retreat was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other without the distraction of technology,” said sophomore Lauren Miller.
Overall, this retreat was filled with fun activities including the ropes course, swimming, smores, and some friendly intramural competition allowing students to get to know each other and relax. Since the retreat, new friendships have been formed and the sophomore class became closer, preparing them for their next adventure this winter, when the sophomores will be hitting Los Angeles!
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