Day 1 (August 14, 2017)
At first, I was kind of nervous of what to expect next during my first few hours of the retreat. I was met with some of the most familiar people that I know and love. I met and made couple of friends there as well. It was a very awesome and spectacular retreat that I want to remember for many years to come.
So, it begins...
To start, we were paired with a name tag placed on our backs and try to guess what it is. My guessing tag was difficult one because no one will be able to answer because it was name of the city in Minnesota. After pairing, the entire group moved forward to the meeting room inside of The Retreat at Artesian Lakes. Inside, we got a portfolio containing a notebook, sticky notes, notepad, koolzie, and the generated report from the assessment that I took back on August 7, 2017. Also, we also received a free mug from Lone Star College — Kingwood and it is AMAZING to see. Next, we had activities that the (now-former) Student Life Coordinator had in store for us.
One of the activities was the MUSICAL CHAIRS! I could not imagine how much fun that I had during that time. My orientation coordinator played some classical rock and a tad bit of today’s pop music as well. Later, we were paired with 4 people to talk about our 3 wellsprings (strengths) and quicksands (weaknesses) of ourselves as a student leader. We, as a group, then present all of it to everyone.
Personal Branding Workshop
Upcoming, we had a keynote speaker named Ron Bloomkemper Jr., a branding strategist and graphic designer. Upon entering the workshop, he gave us a pamphlet called the Anthem Builder, a pamphlet that is used and customized based on the assessment report that I received. Ron introduces himself and what he’ll cover in the presentation plus we are the first students to see the presentation for the first time because he worked with Dr. Darrin Rankin, the VP of Student Success at Lone Star College — Kingwood and collaborated with Dr. Rankin to achieve this. Some of the highlights from the presentation that intrigued me that a listener has the average listening attention span of under 9 SECONDS! Ron also mentioned about what an anthem is. An anthem in the interview stage is a tagline for my personality comprised in 2 to 3 words. Here is my initial Anthem that I made during the presentation to start:
My distinct value is my ability to deliver innovative knowledge.
Another fact that there are three threats of communications that may hinder the communication of the listener(s):
- Distraction: Threatens the ability to connect with your audience
- Competition: Threatens the ability to stand out and wining your audience
- Commoditization: Threatens the relationships and loyalty
Ron explained more in depth about the marketing template using the Anthem in the specific marketing areas. Here is my version of this example below:
I deliver innovative knowledge. You need innovative knowledge because of it will resolve problems quickly and efficiently. Right now, having someone who is innovative is key to your success. Other people do not provide innovative knowledge; and as a result, you’ll experience the lack of ideas that would help contribute in and out of the workplace. That is why I am the perfect solution to your problem.
Lastly, he concluded that the fascination advantage is how the world sees you and wants us to build a reputation using the information he provided and take inspiration from it.
Move In Time
To start off the most anticipated and long-awaited moment, the Student Life Coordinator gave the entire group the corresponding cabins they were assigned to. I was also paired with another roommate. I’ve talked to my roommate along the way of going to my cabin room and get settled there. We had a few hours to chill and relax for a moment. Later, we went to the fitness room to work out and doing something there. Later, my roommate and I went outside and caught a couple of friends playing volleyball and were doing it good. We came in and joined to play as well. I had the strongest hand in the field. They were just like put me in the front like it was no big deal.
At 5:20pm, we set foot back to the cabins and get ready for dinner with the college leaders. We had to be punctual about the timing since the rules are pretty strict when it comes to timing and showing up in the restaurant at Hilltop. I arrived there on time and head back to the meeting room and meet the very most important people. I met Dr. Katherine Persson, President at Lone Star College — Kingwood campus, and Dr. Darrin Rankin (with his family), the most highly praised VP of Student Success, and finally, Garth Howard, the Dean of Student Development.
Also, we had to take a group picture with the college leaders before dinner, the picture is the cover above of this article.
The Student Life Coordinator gave the group their undivided attention and thanked the leaders for coming here and their time & service for making the college an open environment.
Dr. Persson stood up and thanked every single student leader for coming as well. She jokingly made a brief Game of Thrones references (but will not reveal since people don’t want to have spoilers ahead of them). Ultimately, in summary of the talks, be the best version of yourself and don’t let that light go out because it will always be lit.
Up next was Dr. Rankin, he told his personal story about his life and career that made him the passionate of his dreams in higher education. His biggest influence is the character of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Strikingly, he caught my attention when spoke about the differences in leadership:
Be tough-minded, but tender-hearted.
In my own interpretation of this sentence, it means that a person is tough on the mind but loving inside of your heart. To me, this quote made a significant touch to it because this is the most powerful quote I’ve heard in a long, long time. It honestly defines respect and credibility. I will not forget about this at all.
Bridgett Johnson introduced herself and thanked us for coming here and showing for the support for the college and wore informal clothes just because of us. Ms. Johnson shared her story and a little background about her.
The Student Life Coordinator started the Q&A panel for the leaders and one person brought to the attention of the leaders:
Can you show how you turned one of your failure stories that turned it into positive and successful?
Dr. Rankin answered the most genuine answer he could ever do in front of a group ever. I felt the pain what he had to go through. He said that when he was in New Orleans, Dr. Rankin at the time, just finished his Master’s degree and continued to be in higher education with an doctoral degree. By the time, Hurricane Katrina was just coming in. So, Dr. Rankin and his wife were forced to move out of their home and left everything behind because of the storm. He started from absolute scratch. All he had was just a savings account. That’s not it. He had two options: Either he continues with his doctoral degree or quit it altogether. He turned to his wife and she similarly said “Why? If you quit, then you are a quitter.” That was brutal to him. It definitely costed him his education. So, he made his decision to continue and start job searching in the meanwhile.
Dr. Rankin also remembers back when he was our age at the time. He tried to apply to universities like Lamar. After some time applying to Lamar, Dr. Rankin received a letter from Lamar that he was rejected and he still has the letter in his own office and uses it for motivation for other students that he isn’t alone and it won’t bring him down.
Then, the day was concluded and everyone was free to do what they wanted to do. So, my friends asked me if I wanted to go on the pool and hangout with them and I honestly wasn’t in the mood of going in the pool at all. So, I was just there to hang out there and that was complete and had a series of conversations and they were interesting.
After 10:30pm, I went back to my cabin and checked if one of my roommates were in there but nope. No one was there. So, I went to check over at the other cabin if some of the roommates were there and it turns out that they were at the river just to check out the alligator in the river (sounds kinda ironic there but why, though?). Stayed for another half of hour waiting in my cabin. So, I changed into my sleepwear clothes and get ready to sleep. Later, I came by the door to see who it was and found it was my roommates I was like okay. I set my alarm clock at 6:40am to get everything ready and pack up for breakfast and check out of the cabin room.
Concludes Day 1
Day 2 (August 15th, 2017)
What is this bright sun are you talking about?
It was 6:40am, on a bright and early sunrise in the cabin. I woke up during that time. So, I realize that my roommate set the same alarm clock time as me. Impressive. That was an unexpected coincidence. Anyway, I got ready for action and pack up again as I am going to leave the cabin room pretty much as it was before. Spotless and very clean. On my way to the hospitality house, I drop my medicine there as I check out and ensures that it stays there the whole time before my departure. Up next, the breakfast.
I got everything settled and ready for the departure ahead of time. So, I return back to the restaurant for breakfast and get what was on the hot plate. I sit down in a different spot than yesterday. I got to sit with some of the officers from the Student Government Association and talk about a few things here and there. As the time flew, one of the staff asked me to come in the back of the restaurant, in secret, and write a short letter to the Student Life Coordinator as the coordinator was leaving the college because of relocation. Then, I headed back to eat what was on my plate. That was the end of that. So, we move on the part one of the Challenge Courses.
Challenge Courses: Part I
Okay, this is where the fun part begins. We begin with an activity that mentally and physically challenged us. One game set was to grab each other’s arms and link them. Next, we need to stand up WITHOUT touching the floor from the hands.
A few games later, we get outside and do more of the mental challenges. So, we get into a circle. This was the “Have you ever…” game and the person has to say “have you ever… [insert some interesting thing here]” and then if people agree with you, then you move out of your circle and move to the available circle until all the spots are filled and the only person gets in the center place. We continued to play that for the next probably half an hour or so.
This time, we focus more two separate test groups where we have to roll the ball under a pressuring 2 seconds (world record time). My group tried numerous of methods and most of them didn’t work UNTIL one solution fully worked that went under 2 seconds. Our time was 0.6 seconds. That’s like 1.4 seconds shaved off from the posted time. Some people from the other group were like just jealous that we got that time somewhat quickly.
I’m not even done with this part right here. So, this game challenge deals with team collaboration. The way it worked in the above picture is grab the two ropes from the wooden log and travel to the other side without losing one side of the logs. Point A to B, right? Yes. Pretend the grass was just a floor full of lava. Imagine that. Can you survive something like that? I am going to let that decision be taken on their own time.
After those events, we had a short time to get some hydration and all that. It was so hot and pretty much humid nearly all of the duration of the part one. There was this one person who would play and throw some water with their new friend just to have fun and bring it closer together. “Can we just have fun with each other?”
Challenge Courses: Part II
This gets even better. Soon as the people in charge told me and the group to be back where we were first formed. In the next game, this deals with limited of wood tiles and walk through them to the other side of the terrain. Similar to the last one but replace it with some form of acid. Any kind of acid that you can name and think of. Yeah, that kind of acid I’m talking about. So, during that process, we lost couple of tiles because of we messed up in some instances. I couldn’t believe it but that is super difficult to manage something like that.
Next, we went to do rope obstacles. This is the one where I had to climb up probably 15 to 20 feet high from the ground surface. As people were doing it, I try to study the movements and enhanced it to my own liking. When I had to climb up there, I tried to focus on myself without looking down and hold on to the rope. This wasn’t easy for me nor my group. It was very intensive and very stressful to even do this kind of course. When I got there, I felt the adrenaline kicking in but surprisingly not nervous at all. Everyone in my group down there were cheering for me because I did something impossible that I’ve never done in my life at all.
Upcoming next, the romper jumper. The way how this course works is that you need to climb the pole and the objective of this course to grab the ring by jumping off of the pole and grabbing it mid-air. After grabbing it, the ring is yours to keep it as a souvenir of the trip. I skipped this one because the last course was pretty intensive and my hands were almost pretty numb at the time. That is a lot of fun, you say, eh?
Finally, The Wall. (Not the game show from NBC, for those of you who watch it.) This gets increasingly difficult with this one. This course requires a lot of the strength in the legs. Once a group of two to three people boost you up to climb up the wall and get ready for messy trip on climbing up for this bad boy.
During this time, one of our staff members gave the letter to the Student Life Coordinator the letter that we wrote for her. It was very emotional for most of us because she is the best coordinator that she has worked for us. We stood for her at everything Student Life. Now, it was time to pass that position to the new coordinator. I thank her so much for making Student Life worthwhile!
To be honest, this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever attended. Period. It is the most spectacular trips I’ve ever made. I would love to come back and do it all over again. It’s never quite the expertise that I’ve had before but this is worth learning a lot as a student leader and as a person. Honoring to meet with the college leaders is the exquisite experience that I will learn from their wisdom and leadership for many years to come.
Thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you liked it as much as I did when I wrote this fantastic piece.