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Annual Calvin Crest retreat educates eighth graders

Cars crowd around the front parking lot of Peoples Church, along with assorted luggage, sleeping bags, pillows and adrenalized eighth graders anticipating their week at Calvin Crest, Sept. 12-16. As students make their way up to the Oakhurst area, an annual retreat full of classes, activities and memories lies ahead.

Upon arriving at Calvin Crest, the girls’ and boys’ luggage are separated into various cabins — which are monitored by a small number of upperclassmen — and class groups are assigned for the week. During the first afternoon, students do team-building activities such as the trust fall and spider web.

Throughout their week at camp, students went on different class hikes such as the Miwok Trail, led by junior high humanities teacher Hallie Rojeski, and the Survival course taught by junior high science teacher Terry Richards. Each night also consisted of a short magic show from senior Brady Lee, worship led by Calvin Crest staff members and a short talk from one of the teachers.

On courses like Survival, students learn to understand how to remain calm when problems arise. The hope is that, when they take time to think a situation through, they can find solutions. Also, through activities like orienteering, they are able to discover tools that are available to them no matter what circumstance they find themselves in.

“From learning about a different culture through the Miwok Trail or discovering useful tools to use in orienteering, the hope is that they learn that God is right there with them, and that prayer should be a part of it,” Rojeski said.

Amongst all of the activities, eighth grader Bailey Brogan says he enjoyed the chance to connect with nature and God in a new environment.

“It was a totally different perspective of looking at all the wonderful things God created,? Brogan said. ?I really liked being connected with nature and God in a whole different environment. Also, it was a great way of getting to know people in my class that I might have never taken the time to know.?

Fellow eighth grade student Sierra Duffy agrees that the week allowed opportunities to grow closer to classmates, adding that it was full of fun events and trails.

“What I liked about Calvin Crest was all the fun activities and hikes,” Duffy said. “Learning about different things, like the giant sequoia trees, was really interesting. I also liked getting to know my classmates through sitting at assigned table for meals; I wouldn?t normally hang out with them, but when I did it they were fun.”

While the students share their view on the week, senior Julianne King provides commentary on the cabin leader experience, returning as a counselor for her second year in a row.

“I really enjoyed this year a lot more because I knew what to expect and I didn?t have to worry about anything,” King said. ?Knowing the basics and guidelines of all the activities helped me explain what was going on with the students.”

Due to it being King’s last year in high school, she acknowledges the special opportunity she had to get to know students and other cabin leaders on a personal level. According to King, being in a setting other than school made it easier to relax and relate to people.

Unlike previous years, the two teachers did not have to deal with any major problems or accidents throughout the course of the week, according to Rojeski.

?This year was free of major problems,” Rojeski said. “It was the smoothest and easiest week that we?ve had in a long time. They were an easy group to work with, they were obedient and, because of the cabin leaders, lights went out when they were supposed to.?

As advice, Duffy challenges this year?s seventh graders to step outside of their normal groups during their eighth grade year.

?You don?t know all your classmates until you start hanging out with them,? Duffy said. ?One thing I would tell the seventh graders is to not stay in cliques.?

This year marks the 17th year that Rojeski has accompanied the 8th grade class to Calvin Crest. Every year, one of the things students learn is to not be afraid of the outdoors and to find beauty in all of God’s creations, Rojeski says.

“The 8th grade class is able to bond whether it be through sharing a cabin, sitting at the same table or being put in the same trail group,” Rojeski said. “In everything they experience during the week, the chance to grow closer to each other is significant.”

“They may not remember all the specifics of the classes, but they get a better appreciation for God’s creation, and they get to spend a week with each other. It helps to increase better awareness of classmates, a better understanding of each other and even brings about new friendships.”

For more information on Calvin Crest, read the Oct. 6, 2010 article, Calvin Crest counselors share experiences.

For more features, check out the Sept. 20 article, Bees: Angels of agriculture Part 1.

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