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Connecting at Camp Courage

Reflections from this year’s Student Empowerment Retreat.


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As college students, we think our camp days are behind us. The students who participated in this year’s Student Empowerment Retreat would beg to differ. The program is offered through the Hedgeman Center for Student Diversity Initiatives and Programs. On Friday September 29, Hamline students, accompanied by faculty, including Associate Dean of Students, Carlos Sneed boarded buses with their bags and headed off to Camp Courage. Located in Maple Lake, Minnesota, Camp Courage lies on Cedar Lake and offers beautiful scenery.

However the retreat had more to offer than lakeshore views and a night of stargazing. An email sent to students on September 12 contained a flyer that gave a brief description of the annual event.

“The off-campus overnight retreat provides students with opportunities to interact and develop relationships with other students [and] develop and share strategies for succeeding at Hamline,” the event flyer stated.

To help develop these relationships, students were given the opportunity to participate in various events throughout their time at Camp Courage.

“The night we got there we got into groups,” said first-year Quinn Siegman. “The following day [we] competed in a series of different events such as a relay race, a team noodle eating contest and a blind doughnut eating contest.

It wasn’t all food and games, the day also included discussions about issues described by Siegman as “heavy”.

“[students] learn about diverse communities and discuss issues of importance to diverse communities,”The Hedgeman Center webpage states.

“My favorite part of the retreat was getting free time to talk to people that I wasn’t close to before,” said first-year Malik Thomas, “this led to conversations about the differences that we have as non-black people of color and black people.”

Not all of the conversations held were a part of the retreat program, the comfortable environment allowed students to lead their own discussions and learn from each other.

“[We had a] conversation about horizontal racism [that] was organic and it wasn’t planned by the retreat, it happened during my free time,” Thomas said. “I talked to people of different races and we went in depth about how people of color commonly attack each other rather than uniting.”

Programmers of the retreat also incorporated sessions to help students be successful during college, this was helpful for first-years especially.

“We had a session on stress management and its effects on students,” said first-year Tsion Tulu, “it was one of my favorite activities because it was helpful and I took a lot away from it.”

Although the majority of students who went on the retreat were first-years, it is important to note that the retreat is open for all students. So if you decided not to join in the fun this year, you can always sign up next year and add it to your college experience. Camp Courage awaits.

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Connecting at Camp Courage