Freshman Retreats Stress Growth in Relationships–with Others & with God


Owen Martzke, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Every year the freshmen of NDA go on retreat to Camp Tekakwitha in Shawano, Wisconsin. This past Wednesday, the freshman girls visited the Catholic summer camp in order to grow not only in personal relationships but also in their faith relationship.

Typically the boys go on their retreat the day after, but due to the weather it was rescheduled to Tuesday, February 19. The boys will still go to Camp Tek because it “is a beautiful setting and is run by the diocese of Green Bay so there are numerous benefits, and it really just doesn’t feel like a retreat when you are at school,” said Campus Minister Daniel Kriegl, who coordinates the retreats.

The retreat is an important day of freshman year because it allows students to take a break from classes to focus on other meaningful aspects of their lives. The students take part in a number of group activities led by juniors and seniors.

It is important to have upperclassmen leaders for the small groups because they are supposed to represent the school positively and provide support and advice about high school, faith and life.

Leaders apply to go on the retreat at the beginning of the school year after picking up an application form in Campus Ministry. Then a committee meets and reviews all applications to decide which students will get to go on which retreat, all of which can be a difficult process due to the great number of applicants.

“The main goal of the retreat is to have the students spend the day thinking about how valuable they are in God’s eyes and what this means for them for the future,” said Kriegl.

This is accomplished through the small group discussions, upperclassman witness talks and Mr Kriegl’s talk. In the small groups ice-breaker activities build trust and initiate connections among members.  It is important to get all members involved in discussions in order to truly have a meaningful experience, said the campus minister.

The students eat lunch in the dining hall and then get a chance for a break with a recess. Kriegl firmly believes that recess should never been taken away, so he gives the students a chance to have a little fun.

In the afternoon, everyone attends mass led by Father Christian, participates in a few more activities and boards the buses to journey back to Notre Dame.

At the end of the day Mr Kriegl hopes the students recognize these three takeaways from the retreat: “That God loves them in a very personal way and has a plan for their lives, they see the sacred dignity in other people, especially their classmates, and that they grow closer to their classmates and retreat leaders. We want them to find good healthy support systems for their high school years.”