People always say that if it is meant to be, it will be right? Well I guess Liz and I were just “mentee” be! Just when I thought college was beginning, I was sent out on an adventure in the wilderness with 100 student leaders, mentors and mentees looking to build friendships and make extraordinary memories. The group of students that I spent this entire weekend with were handpicked individuals who all have at least one thing in common, we are Central Michigan University Leader Advancement Scholarship recipients. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2015 and 2016 LAS cohorts.
The weekend we spent together seemed like it was so long, but really it was only a total of 30 hours! In those hours, I spent so much time making connections and memories that it was all worth it! I will say, this weekend was not all sunshine and rainbows, (even though there were rainbows in the sky) this weekend was a slippery slope and my mentor helped me by showing me the ropes. Wow. I am so funny! I guess rhyming just made this blog post so much better than it was before! I guess I should probably explain myself and why I referenced things that you don’t quite understand, I mean, unless you were there.
SO! To get to the point… From 9am Saturday, September 10th to 3 pm Sunday, September 11th, LAS had to overcome many obstacles. Some were personal, some were over the entire group and then some were within smaller groups of people:
Yeah, that’s a thing and Ms. Liz thought it would be such a great idea to take photographic evidence of me catching up on my sleep… My excuse? “I don’t want to be tired for the retreat.” When in reality, 9am on a Saturday morning for a college kid, is a rough thing to do. Unless there is a 12pm game and your main priority is to get to a decent tailgate.
The name itself kinda gives it away, I think? The challenge course was a blessing and a curse for everyone in our group. Before we started to work on accomplishing our tasks, we made community and acknowledged our individual strengths and weaknesses. Personally, it made me realize that when I get put under a relatively large amount of stress during an exercise, I tend to have really stand-offish body language and facial expressions, which makes me look like I am frustrated or angry. Recognizing this made me aware of my body and what I may be portraying to my teammates, so I made a conscious effort to fix it in order to better my team. In doing this, we gave our teammates (pictured) an opportunity to see what each member brought to the table. This made it so that when we were taking on challenges, we knew who had the upper-hand in the particular skills that were needed in the current activity. Throughout the course, we completed some of the tasks so fast that it didn’t seem all that challenging, but on others it took so long that it felt like we were never going to accomplish what we were hoping to accomplish. Our group did very well with the rope activity, the helium stick activity, the blindfold activity and the beginning stages of the floating board. But when it came to gutter-ball and the last round or so of the floating board, we struggled a little. For whatever reason, we could not get the hang of gutter-ball. We spent probably an hour playing gutter-ball (pictured) alone. We would get really far into the game but then the marble would fall onto the floor and we would have to restart and re-strategize. I will say that I was very proud of our group, everyone stayed calm and positive, and when things got really intense, we kept our cool so that our teammates could stay focused on their task at hand. After trial, error and taking a few breaks, we completed this activity and then we celebrated and moved onto the next task! In the last few stages of the floating board activity, we had to be challenged because we had flown through the first few rounds of this game. The stage we struggled with the most was when the mentors were blindfolded and the mentees had to then instruct the mentors what to do in order to get the ball on the board where it needed to be. I truly believe that as mentees, we did a really good job communicating to one another on what needed to be done. The problem was our connection and communication to the mentors, we would say to this or lower their hands and the movements would be sudden and the ball would go flying. I found this activity to be very amusing and truly laughed a lot. We didn’t end up accomplishing this last step but it’s okay! We had fun doing the entire challenge course and we learned what set of skills we were confident in and which ones we may need to work on as a group.
We were given the option to do an activity during our “down time” Liz and I decided that we wanted to go canoeing, so we put ourselves in the drawing! Sure enough, we won, so later that day we were able to go on a canoeing trip down the river! Knowing that we were only going to be there this one night, I only packed one set of warm clothes. BAD IDEA. In the middle of our float down the river, it starts to down pour… Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about our night, except for one thing. I wish I would have brought more clothing so I wouldn’t had to wear anyone else’s. Our canoeing trip was probably one of my favorite things that we did this weekend. Some people flipped, one group had a constant leak in their boat, a few groups were caught in the banks, some groups made it a race, others were just floating along. It was such a good and chill time, even with the rain.
After I found clothes from fellow LAS members and warmed up a little more, it was time to go outside and sit around a fire with the 100 other LAS that had already gathered. While sitting around this fire, I was overcome with joy and sincere love while people took turns telling others around them how they felt by giving “shout outs” all around. Seeing how close the group became in only a few short hours made me realize that I was right where I needed to be. I was surrounded by a group of people who genuinely cared about me and everyone else around me, and I didn’t what the night to end. But just like I mentioned before, sleep deprivation is a thing.
The high ropes course was definitely one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Liz and I set one goal for this activity, to go on as many obstacles as we could in the time frame allotted. I am proud to say that we accomplished our goal! We were the first pair to go into the course for our group and we were the last to come down. We went on all but approximately 2 obstacles in the time we had! On one particular obstacle, we decided to try a different method to get across, let’s just say that we ended up tied together dangling from our ropes, completely overcome with laughter. Had we remembered that we could do so, we would have blindfolded ourselves on certain obstacles, just so that we could challenge ourselves a little more. Instead of making tasks more difficult, we focused on accomplishing our goal of getting to as many obstacles as we could, but we ended up having quite a bit of time left, so we just went back through some of the two-person obstacles over again to try different methods to make it across. When we came down from the ropes, we used the swing and had to step off of a board and then swing until we were lowered to the ground. Once on the ground, we decided to lie on the ground and watch the next group tackled the high ropes. Liz and I had such so much fun during this activity, and I was so glad that I was able to spend this time with my mentor!
The LAS Eagle Village mentor/mentee retreat was such a great way to kick-off my freshman year at college. I am so grateful to be a student at Central Michigan University and I am beyond grateful for the Leadership Institute and those that I will be spending the next four years with as an LAS recipient. After this weekend, I look forward to spending the next four years making more memories with my cohort, the cohorts above me and those to come after me. From my family to yours, FIRE UP CHIPS!
Thank you Liz for being such an awesome mentor and making this weekend so memorable! I love you!
Now that I have been a mentee at the retreat, it is time for me to start preparing to be a mentor. I have the potential to learn so much and grow in this upcoming year at CMU to prepare myself to be as good of a mentor as Liz has been to me to my mentee. The mentor/mentee system is something that I will keep on hand for my future experiences. Depending on where my life takes me, this system could be beneficial in the workplace, in a school, and even in a theatre company. Pairing up someone who has more experience with a new member provides not only a resource but an opportunity for friendship. Having had this experience, I feel that I am more prepared to go on this trip next year as a mentor because of what we encountered over the weekend. I look forward to learning more about this system and becoming the best mentor I can be for my mentee by this time next year!.