Mirika Jambudi (III)
Bright and early on August 28th, just a few days before the start of the school year, Pingry welcomed its newest class of freshmen on campus for the longstanding tradition of the peer leadership retreat. Alongside their senior peer group leaders, the nervous but excited freshmen crammed into four buses for the long two-hour drive to Bryn Mawr Mountain Retreat in the scenic mountains of Pennsylvania. There, the freshman undertook team-bonding exercises and activities to help them get acquainted with their peers.
When the buses arrived at Bryn Mawr, the eager freshmen were led to their cabins to quickly unpack and get ready for the multiple activities planned for the day.
The first challenge was the egg drop, where peer groups of six to eight students and two seniors worked together to create a structure that would be able to protect the egg when dropped from above. Each group then made a banner representing their peer group pride. The students also worked with each other and their peer leaders to create a chariot from cardboard and PVC pipes to carry one freshman through an obstacle course the next day.
The next challenge was an obstacle course in the woods nicknamed “The Gauntlet”; it featured a series of obstacles that involved physical activity, logical thinking, and teamwork.
“The Gauntlet really challenged us to work together, and after the first activity, it was really fun to do, and our group definitely grew closer,” said Max Watzky (III). Everyone aimed to complete the course in the quickest time, and the competitive nature of the challenge fostered a sense of camaraderie in each peer group. The most memorable part of the night was during the impromptu dance in the dining hall when all the peer leaders surprised the freshman by running out onto the dance floor in costumes. “Everyone being together on the dance floor and having fun right before school started was definitely a great way to kick off the school year!” Milenka Men (III) recalled.
At the end of the day, groups came up with skits using silly objects chosen from a bag. Watching the skits and seeing classmates take the stage in silly outfits definitely left everyone in a great mood for the rest of the evening.
The next morning, everyone woke up to pack and wrap up the peer leadership retreat. Finally, the most awaited event occurred––using the chariots made the previous day in the obstacle course. Our group took an unforgettable, unconventional route, which the other students found hilarious. The fun-filled day-and-a-half at Bryn Mawr had flown by, and it was time to leave, but not before discussing the students’ favorite parts of the trip. For my group, our unconventional way of attempting the chariot race obstacle course was definitely one of the best parts about the retreat, alongside all the friends we made. “It was a great experience, and I’m glad I got to meet tons of people right before school started! Now I’m more confident about starting at a new school,” said Katie Lin (III). All in all, the freshmen had a blast at the peer leadership retreat, found some new friends, and are ready to take on the upcoming school year!