After years and years of camp and not being particularly a fan of the outdoors, I was super excited for retreat! A fortnight ago, the Yr 11’s from my school ventured far away from our city/suburban homes to the picturesque Tyalgum Ridge, Northern NSW, Australia for the annual retreat. The 1 and a 1/2 hour drive was kept entertaining with friends in front and at the back, you’ll see below a glimpse of the bus ride and Wendy and Adam successfully photo bombing Denniscia & I. Never a dull moment!
Of course on a long ride, you could entertain yourself with a Nintendo as multiple boys did, listening to music, car/bus games like I Spy – as you could guess, this’ll work better with 2+ people, reading mags or novels or the best of all: talking to your friends! As it was a retreat, a lot of us tried to go electronic free with the exception of a camera including myself. I think you get the most out of a camp/retreat without the distractions. The aim of the 3 day retreat was to connect with our peers and God as well as discovering ourselves. Our facilitator was Chris Doyle and he was hilarious, he was the bomb! We talked a lot about positivity, wishing others a good life and different types of love – filos, eros, agape. The whole event was very musical based which I personally really enjoyed, selected people such as my friends Joe and James played guitar – Joe did an epic cover of Oceans. I may have sung 😉
The 1st day was a heap of activities in small groups and the grade was still trying to feel comfortable. There was a lot of free time to do what you like each day so that gave me time to play on the piano. We slept in cabins both nights and had access to hot water and real toilets! Woohoo! The food was actually surprisingly really yum, so that kept us misfits happy! The girls in my cabin were fab, it was nice spending the nights with friends. The 2nd day was even better, along with Chris talking, music and the small group activities, being Catholic we created a liturgy which was super cute. Went in the retreat’s pool with the girls during free time which was sweet!
That night was the fancy dress/costume party which everyone really looked forward to. Definitely the highlight of the 3 days. So much dancing and bonding! People dressed up as cartoon/gaming characters, athletes, professionals, superheroes and onesie characters to name the majority! We thought that it was like going clubbing on a theme night but substituting the alcohol with water. Geez it’s hot and exhausting, but heaps of fun!
The last day was a good finish, one on one bonding, group work, and we wrote letters to our future selves. It was great to get away from the city and from school for a few days and just think about us, our friends and God. It was a great trip for the soul! I’d highly recommend not bringing electronic devices unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you dread school camp, this is so much better and definitely something worth doing if you have the opportunity at your school and if you like camp, well, you’ll still have great time with your friends!