Honors Retreat 2009

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The Gallaudet Blog has been a pretty quiet place over the summer, hasn’t it? Here’s something new!

I just got back from this year’s Honors Retreat…and I mean I just got back! My first priority was a shower, because Camp St. Charles doesn’t have air conditioning, but now I’m here to tell you about the retreat.

Everybody in Honors chats over the summer on a discussion board, talking about the summer reading and life at Gallaudet. The first time they meet in person, though, is on Sunday night at the Honors dinner. We had Chinese food this year, and parents joined their students to hear the Honors Director, Dr. Myers, and Honors Coordinator Geoff Whitebread speak. (Well, sign, but we had interpreters for the non-signing parents.) Afterward, the parents went to a discussion called “Letting Go” while the students came to the Honors Lounge to check it out and establish some ground rules for its use. (The HL is in SAC, in the same area as the TIP Center and OSWD.)

Monday morning – that’s yesterday, for those of you keeping track – we all gathered at the Benson Hall Circle at 7am and waited for the bus to show up. Somebody had to phone over to the transportation department to ask about it, but it finally came and we loaded the bags, people, snacks, and drinks and headed off to Charles County. We got to Camp St. Charles about 8:30am and everybody got situated in their cabins. We had some icebreaker activities to start with – the Human Knot was led by Allison Weiner, and everybody participated in the Name Game which helps us all remember who each other is! We had lots of academic sessions on Monday too. The professors for GSR 101 (English) came out to talk to students, and we talked about Academic Integrity. In the evening, author Josh Swiller came out to discuss The Unheard as he did last year, and he brought his brother Zev which was a nice treat. Just like last year, Josh’s talk provoked some interesting discussion; unlike last year, Josh signed on his own and I had to voice for his brother so he could follow what was going on! Monday wrapped up with Smores, but they weren’t around the campfire as we’d hoped. We had to have a camp employee start it, of course, for safety reasons, but the poor guy tried and tried for at least 30 minutes before giving up. He told us the wood and ground were just too wet, and we all trooped back to the mess hall where he built a fire in a “smoke tower” (basically a standalone fireplace) and we toasted the marshmallows over that. After smores, I know many of the freshman stayed up until sunrise chatting, but I went to bed! Being an upperclassman on the Honors Retreat is cool because you get to meet all the new freshmen, but it’s also WORK because you’re the one who has to do the grunt work while the faculty actually work with the kids. 🙂

Today everybody was up bright and early for a nice breakfast. Camp St. Charles provides all the meals when you go there, and they were on time this morning at 8am. We had to finish up some Academic Integrity stuff in the morning and then it was time for fun! Most of the group, about 20 people, went canoeing with the camp employee (he’s a lifeguard, he’s a tour guide, he’s a campfire starter…) and the rest stayed in and played word games like Scattergories. I personally plunked down in front of a fan and read my book…I think I might have dozed off for 20 minutes there even! The only other activity for the day was lunch…we had forgotten to ask the camp for vegetarian options, so some of us (myself included) went a little hungry for lunch, but we still had plenty of snacks left over so we weren’t starving. Then we just had to wait for the bus, and it was a long wait! We were all cleaned up and ready to go by 12:30 but the driver wasn’t coming until 2:00. Fortunately he showed up a little early and we loaded everything up and back we went.

I think the Honors Retreat went pretty well this year. I hope the students who attended agree with me!

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