By Allie Zaleski
Low ropes and ENOs and scavenger hunts – oh my! The annual Freshman Honors Retreat was hosted by Wilderness Adventures this past weekend at Eagle Landing in New Castle, VA. The conference and retreat center is nestled in the mountains on a small lake, with a wide range of outdoor activities to participate in, from canoeing to zip lining, and a cozy cabin to retire in for the night.
The students arrived Friday evening and launched into group activities to better get to know one another and concluded the night with a campfire dinner together. During dinner, traditional skits were performed that focused on highlighting the students’ most memorable experiences in their first weeks as freshmen, from getting “the plague” to admiring Dr. James Hargrove’s shoes.
S’mores, canoeing, swimming, and stargazing were some of most popular activities for the night. Several students took also advantage of the nice weather and opted to set up their ENOs in the gazebo over the lake, creating a colorful, hanging spot to enjoy the night.
Day two revolved around team-building and some on-site activities. One of the most popular activities was the 900 foot long zip-line that ran through the treetops and over a pond, making for a stunning, birds-eye-view of the mountains. Another favorite activity was the rock climbing wall that stretched 50 feet in the air and challenged the climbers as they got further up. The third option for students was the “Dangling Duo,” which was a larger-than-life ladder that required two climbers to assist each other to the top while their friends were on belay.
After the high-intensity activities, groups were challenged with low-ropes courses, which were team building-focused and required precise communication and listening skills. Upon leaving Wilderness Adventures, the freshmen were driven to lunch and then challenged once again with a Scavenger Hunt in Downtown Roanoke. Teams of six to seven were let loose around the city to accomplish tasks such as finding three people in purple shirts, proposing to a stranger, visiting the Taubman Museum of Art, and having a fake fight in front of Snowball’s.
At the end of the day, the most memorable moments were those spent as a group with the mentors and advisors that made the trip possible. Dr. Chad Morris, in a touching and inspiring speech, encouraged the students to enjoy the experience of Roanoke College and the family of the Honors Program. But the most memorable part of the retreat was certainly the heart of the Honors Program – “[To] Learn What You Live For”.