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The following blog was written by Jessica Smith, a graduating Junior in the Bonner Leaders Program at the Campus Y. Jessica works at Dobbins Hill FRC this year.


by Jessica Smith

Recently, the Junior class of Bonners was fortunate enough to take part in “Junior retreat”, an overnight experience at a local during which time Juniors are given the opportunity to relate and bond as well as discuss important topics both in the world and in the work that they perform in the community. We took a retreat. Urban dictionary, an acclaimed and reliable resource for colloquial definitions (a joke of course, however certainly useful), defines retreat as (n.) (re-treet) “a routine luxurious vacation taken at the company’s expense for the purposes of indulging in golf, fine dining and other forms of entertainment (legitimate or otherwise) under the pretense of working and for other business purposes”. Within this context, then, let us examine the “retreat” recently taken by the Junior class of Bonners to Camp New Hope. Perhaps it will be most beneficial to break the definition down into its component parts.

“A routine luxurious vacation.” I suppose this would depend on how one defines luxurious. Urban dictionary defines luxurious as “of a very fine and comfortable quality”. I found the retreat to be quite fine. And quite comfortable. So, then, I suppose I found it luxurious. During the retreat, we had the opportunity to discuss a significant number of topics that were both sensitive and personal. We answered a plethora of questions meant to bring us closer together, such as “What is the best type of fry?” and “Dogs or teacup piglets?”. We spoke of illegal immigration in the United States in the context of a specific story, “La Misma Luna”. We spoke of objects that were important to us and what they represented, often delving into deeply personal territory. Throughout the experience, there was not one single time when I felt uncomfortable or that my input was not valued. It gave me (and the rest of the Bonners) a chance to discuss important issues and learn about one another in a way that was both understanding and meaningful. The feelings of trust and friendship that we built during this time were more than fine, more than comfortable, and more than luxurious.

“Taken at the company’s expense.” Technically, yes. But not important.

“For the purposes of indulging in golf.” No. Unless one is talking about a mental kind of golf, for which I can not even think of a good metaphor.

“Fine dining.” I mean,….we did have s’mores and other forms of entertainment (legitimate or otherwise)!”

Jessica 1-Smores

During this retreat, we found our entertainment in many legitimate forms. Entertainment took its form in learning to trust one another, learning about important issues and the opinions that our coworkers express, as well as learning how to make work into something more, and more meaningful: friendship, honesty, and trust. As far as otherwise goes, we did play a lively game of cards.

“Under the pretense of working and for other business purposes.” Let me start by saying that this retreat was invaluable to my experience as a Bonner. It afforded me the opportunity to feel closer to the Bonners and as such the Bonner program as a whole. Bonner is about creating communities; both within the program and in the communities in which we work. For me, this experience both served to create and strengthen the community that I feel within the Bonner program. Such experience, then, is directly related to the fundamental values at the core of the Bonner program. I would not categorize this as “under the pretense of working and for other business purposes”. I would define this as upholding and strengthen the very values that Bonner seeks to facilitate. Although Urban dictionary defines retreat in a facetious way, that is not the experience that I had on this Junior retreat. I learned trust, friendship, and a sense of community that I will continue to experience throughout the rest of my Bonner experience, and memories that will last me far beyond these years. For me, it was not a retreat; it was something more.Perhaps, then, we should find a new definition to encompass the experience that Bonners had this past weekend at Camp New Hope. Or perhaps just describe it as what it is: a meaningful Bonner experience.

Jessica 2-Group

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