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Courage retreat builds strong leaders

NHS members led small groups and workshops to help middle schoolers

Kaydee Bjork, Producer

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Over 100 seventh graders poured into Constance Free Church in Andover on October 11, to engage in the annual Courage Retreat.Over 100 seventh graders poured into Constance Free Church in Andover on October 11, to engage in the annual Courage Retreat.

Youth Frontiers sponsors the retreat which has been an ongoing event in ISD 15. NHS provided the high school volunteers, many of whom had participated when they were in seventh grade.

“The Courage Retreat is a day to inspire students to follow their hearts instead of the crowd, use moral courage and make responsible decisions,” stated the Youth Frontiers website (www.youthfrontiers.org).

Throughout the day, there were many activities, including team bonding exercises. Leaders had their own small group where they led discussions and got to their students.

“I found the activities to be a really good bonding experience for everyone in the seventh grade and for everyone who volunteered as well,” said NHS member Kaitlyn Fields.”They just kind of brought everyone together, but it showed them that they can still be themselves at the same time.”

One activity Fields liked was a jump rope activity where they had to make it through as a group.

“If one person got hit you had to go back. You had to do it all as a class – as a whole –  made up of separate individuals still,” she said. “When people were up near the front of the jump rope, they felt nervous, but they were being encouraged, so everyone can get through it.”

Both Fields and Junior Hannah Odell participated in the retreat when they were in seventh grade.

“I know a lot more, I have a much different perspective of each topic spoken about,” said Odell. “I have a different connotation of ‘courage’ now as well.”

As a 7th grader, Fields found it very fun the first time.

“Now, being a junior, I can just see everything that happened on an even greater level, and just how big of an influence that can have on different people, and how they look at things,” she said. “It is just very motivational.”

The courage retreat made an impact on many of the seventh grade students. The last activity of the retreat was to create one act of courage.

“I found the pebble in the pond activity to be very influential,” said Fields.

The pebble in the pond activity shows the ripple effect students can have in their own communities. At the end, many of the students were in tears and hugging their friends.

Fields felt that it was very powerful to hear what people wanted to do to make an impact on their school and on their grade in general.

“It’s really nice to just see all those seventh graders open up and just be themselves,” she said, “because that’s who they should be.”

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Courage retreat builds strong leaders