As a freshman in LAS, you are blessed with the opportunity to have a mentor from the class above you in which they are able to help you with about pretty much anything. Although we have just gotten to meet our cohort, we have yet to really get to know many from the cohort above us. After just two short weeks of being at CMU, the freshman and sophomore cohorts of LAS go on a retreat to Eagle Village and we have the opportunity to bond and connect with each other as a unit. We are able to not only get to know our mentor, but we also get to know and create bonds with other mentors as well!
Going into the retreat, I was so excited because I was going to get the chance to bond with my mentor, Bobby, and go through this experience with him. About a week before, I was given the sad news that he wasn’t going to be able to make it there for that weekend due to prior commitments. I totally understood the situation and the circumstances of him not being able to attend, but that didn’t hide that fact that I was sad that he wasn’t going to be there. Luckily, I had the opportunity to be adopted by this wonderful human being, Dalton Sutherland! Dalton, is technically my uncle within my LAS family tree and he was able to adopt me for the weekend.
Going into the retreat, I was still sad that I wasn’t there with my mentor but I definitely tried to push back the fact and keep a positive mind. When we got there, everyone was so excited and the energy was just exhilarating. We went right into different exercises and bonding activities as well as some leadership development challenges. We were split into different groups of approximately 12 people and that was the group that we would do most of the activities with. I was so blessed to have had an amazing team to be there for me and include me in on things when I was feeling down.
One of the things that was a tradition for the retreat every year is that at night, after all the festivities were concluded from the first day, we would all gather around a campfire and eat s’mores. The significance of this was not just the welcoming of being surrounded by everyone, but this was a time in which everyone would give a little shout out to anyone that they wanted, whether it be their mentor/mentee, or their roommates, it was a time to give thanks and show appreciation for one another. This, for me, was the hardest part of the retreat, in a sense where I was at an emotional low. It was hard listening to everyone shoutout their mentor or mentee and tell the group of how much they were able to bond through various activities throughout the day because all I could think about was Bobby. At that point, I was in tears thinking about what memories we could’ve shared together and it made me worry about not being as close to a person that I had already cared so much for.
As I went into the second day, I cleared my mind from the night before and went in with a fresh and new attitude. Going into all the activities and challenges, I was able to concentrate on the important factors of working together as a team and being able to learn different leadership styles among one another. After having this opportunity of spending an entire weekend with my cohort and the one above, I thought about all the things that were great about this experience and I focused on the people that I did have there with me. I was able to grow as a person, and I feel that I became stronger from this experience and I learned that I can’t so much focus on the things that I don’t have but cherish the things that I do have in life. Overall, being there without my mentor was definitely a mental obstacle that I had to overcome, but I also learned the aspect of valuing the presence of your peers and I also can apply the different team building and communication skills that were developed throughout the weekend back to my experiences as a leader on campus.