Being my first retreat as a staff member, I had an awesome experience with the kids compared to when I was a student. At first, I was nervous thinking that it would be tough for me to bond especially with the little ones in primary school. I was not so excited about it. When it came, to my surprise, I loved every minute of it.
I got to know some of the primary students quite well. For example, whenever I visit Shallot, Nelly, Velma, Helen, and Tracy at school, they are always unwilling to talk to me. They are quiet, reserved, and seem bothered that I am there. Even at the retreat when we went swimming, Helen, Tracy and Velma were not willing to swim. After a while, when they saw all of the other kids enjoying it, they got into the water and happily joined in. It was fun to see the smiles on their faces and to see the tough walls they had put up come down.
It was during the retreats that I realized that these girls actually love talking and sharing stories when together and that they are not as shy as I once perceived them to be. I think maybe they just are not used to an adult being involved in their life in that way.
I also loved the games we played for the first time. As a student, I was always a little hesitant to participate. I was older and always viewed them as some form of punishment. I’m not sure if I was too cool, or just not secure in myself. To see primary students laughing and making so many precious memories was a joy and when I saw the children be completely free and enjoy them, I couldn’t help but join in.
At the high school retreat, I had a new level of understanding of what our students need. We took them to see the movie Eddie the Eagle, and watching how much they loved the story. They kept on cheering and clapping for him as he conquered his goals and showed people who doubted him that he was so much more than they though. I realized how much our students desire to overcome, and how much they need to be encouraged and motivated to chase their dreams and never give up. It inspired me as a staff member to be an advocate for them and cheer them on towards greater heights.