Intimate retreat in spite of conflicts

Eric Rowe- Staff Writer

“It just took a chunk of my skin off,” senior Luke Venhuizen said as he pointed to the scar on the outside of his right knee. You can still see the remains of the injury he sustained playing group games at the All-Campus Retreat his freshman year, nearly four years ago.

“I won camper of the weekend for putting my body on the line,” Venhuizen said.

Venhuizen can trace the beginning of most of his close friendships now back to that All-Campus Retreat weekend.

Despite conflicts this year with other campus events and a low attendance of 50 students, the annual All-Campus Retreat to Lake Okoboji was deemed a success by Venhuizen and fellow student coordinator Fayth Ponsen.

Because the traditional date of the third weekend of school coincided with Camp Okoboji’s 50th anniversary celebration, the retreat was pushed back a week.

It was only just before school started that planners realized the schedule’s conflict with a concert choir retreat, four different varsity sports games and the Pops Concert.

Ponsen pointed out that the attendance of fewer people made it easier to learn names and get to know those who were able to attend.

The special activities at this year’s retreat, speed friending and an inflatable movie screen, turned out to work better with fewer people.

Although the coordinators try to add new elements every year, there are some staples of the All-Campus Retreat such as the ice cream social, worship at the fire pit and the belly flop and freshman toss competitions.

The winning freshman tossee, Hannah Veldhuisen, was pitched into the lake after being swung from her wrists and ankles by two throwers who jumped with her and let her go in mid-air.

Veldhuisen’s favorite part of the weekend, she said, was when the campers were around the fire.

“There was a full moon,” Veldhuisen said. “Very beautiful.”

After three years of planning the retreat together, Ponsen and Venhuizen decided to compete in the traditional belly flop competition, the last event of the weekend.

“Fayth finished out the girls and I finished out the guys,” Venhuizen said. “You could say we ended on a flop, but it didn’t. It ended on a bang! … ‘Cause it hurt.”

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