Fri. May 17th, 2024

After attending first-year orientation over the summer, many students signed up to go on the fall New Student Leadership retreat program on Friday, Sept. 7 to Sunday, Sept. 9, to learn more about West Chester University and to work together as a team during a weekend of camping. Students arrived at Camp Saginaw to be introduced to the leadership programs, rotation of sessions, new experiences and new friends.

The New Students Night began with guest speaker Steve Birdine, who interacted with the audience to teach about life and how we live it emotionally. The following day consisted of three sessions that students had signed up for to participate in. Sessions were physical, relaxing, informational, healthy and about leadership.

The sessions included the history of WCU, Greek life, Resident Assistance (RA), what you should know going into college, becoming a leader (for life and careers), being a team player, low ropes, high ropes, activities and more.

Throughout the day, students were able to meet each other to work together through activities and to spend leisure time. More time was given to spend time in the pool, canoeing, riding go-carts, playing miniature golf, hiking and to take time on their own.

Each night there were many different activities to do such as enjoying the bonfire while roasting s’mores or going to the pool to watch a movie on a big inflatable screen. The next night, there was a karaoke and dance party for all to attend.

“People were being truthful and you learn things [about people] that you wouldn’t have known at first glance,” first-year Mike Bertolino said, after the men’s session with Birdine.

Along with all the memories created throughout the weekend, all of the 300 students that attended the trip came together for a group photograph. Each cabin took a picture with the members that all lived together.

It is believed that students who get involved with the campus have more job opportunities. This is one way to get involved and be trained how to. It is an enjoyable way to make friends and really get to know others.

Orientation leaders led each group a long side with Camp Saginaw’s employees to make each session possible. Mary-Alice Ozechoski, Assistant Dean for Student Development and Involvement, planned out the creation of this program, as this year was the third annual trip.

“Camp Saginaw was so much fun,” first-year Katie Conrath stated. “I met so many new people and learned how to be a leader in all different situations. I encourage all upcoming freshmen to go and have a blast with Mary- Alice and Jackie.”

The trip ended with everyone creating an ‘I am’ poem that reflected who they were. The poem would begin with a statement and have space to fill in the remainder of the sentence. Some were very personal reflections that people took time to put it into.

Students were able to exchange their poems with small groups, and some read them out loud to the big group.

During the departure, there were discussions among new friends about joining the leadership programs such as becoming an orientation leader or a residential assistant. The trip explained how to be a leader and what a leader is.

Beginning next year as second-years, they will be more experienced and more informed about their college. The weekend not only discussed becoming a leader, but also about getting more involved with school.

The fall New Student Leadership Retreat program held at Camp Saginaw encouraged new students to get more involved with school programs, get to know others, work as a team and be the leader.

Students were happy to be a part of the retreat and hope that others participate when given the chance as it is an opportunity that will lead to more.

Ginger Rae Dunbar is a first-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at

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