North Union students experience retreats

ARMSTRONG – When North Union’s freshmen class had the opportunity to experience a respect retreat at the beginning of the school year, it was the upper classmen on the outside looking in. On Thursday and Friday, they got their turn.

Sophomores and juniors had their respect retreat Thursday, while the senior class experienced a wisdom retreat on Friday.

“I’m glad to see the wisdom and respect retreats are run very different,” said North Union’s Becky Kinnander, who helped coordinate the Youth Frontier retreats for the school. “But all the students are participating; no one is really hanging back. They’re really engaged and enjoying the day.”

Both staff and students have been pleasantly surprised that the retreats have offered much more than just a day away from class.

“I was thinking it was going to be boring,” admits Jaydyn Kissner, a sophomore who attended Thursday’s retreat. “But there were a lot of activities together, and there were the personal stories that were shared.”

“It was really unexpected,” added junior Dyson Umscheid. “It involved everybody with all the activities; no one was left out. Anyone that was off to the side was brought into it.”

Making sure everyone is actively involved is one of the main goals of the retreats. They are also meant to help get students out of their comfort zones or regular group of friends.

“One of the activities was the ‘human chair circle,'” Kissner said. “We all had to stand behind someone, like really close to them and then we all sat, and we were all holding each other up. There’s a huge trust builder there because you’re not with your usual friends.”

Between activities, there were some serious moments.

“We talked about how it was the right thing to do to stand up for people, because if you were in that situation, you would want someone to do it for you,” Kissner said. “When you’re seeing things in the hallway, instead of just ignoring it, you need to stand up.”

“People either stand up or just watch it happen,” Umscheid added. “But you need to help by either telling the person to stop, or getting someone to help make it stop.”

For the seniors wisdom retreat, it was a time to reflect on wise and dumb moments.

“That’s what wisdom is,” said Todd Maas of Youth Frontiers during his presentation. “You have your good moments, and you have your dumb moments. But if you can learn from your experiences, it’s what makes you a wiser person. This is a chance to reflect, as you prepare to step into your next portion of your life.”

The day-long experiences helped open the doors to some friendships and acquaintances for students.

“Afterward, we had some time to walk around, and there are people in my class that I’d never talked to before, and I was there talking to them and getting along with them,” Kissner said.

“I would definitely do this again,” Unscheid said. “It was a great experience.”

“My sister did the wisdom retreat, and she said she couldn’t ask for a better way to say goodbye to her class,” Maas said to the senior class. “This is the time to appreciate the people here, so be here today, in the moment. Be with the people that are in this room, because we won’t ever be together like this again.”