A group of fifty students and seven faculty chaperones traveled to Ghent, WV to spend the long weekend on the slopes. Getting a head start on the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, the group left bright and early Friday, Feb. 18. This retreat is offered to all high school grades with the chance to sign up months in advance.
The Christian Life Ski Retreat is planned to make sure students can get the same exciting experience as previous years. Christian Life Director Alex Bufton said, “I have to book the house a year in advance,” which means that the students are going back to the same house to make more memories that will stay with them for many years to come. “A lot of time is spent planning the transportation, ski rentals and food for everyone,” said Bufton.
This weekend is filled with many hours skiing, playing card games, enjoying cabin cooked meals and listening to nightly devotions led by chaperones. “I loved playing cards and board games with my friends,” said senior Savannah Sommer. With little cell phone service, students crowded together in a small living room and played games when they were not on the slopes. “I spent ten hours playing kemps [a partner card game],” said senior Ashwin Gidwani.
Teacher chaperone Dawson Zimmerman said, “This was my fifth time going on the trip and I always have such a fun time.” It isn’t just a trip for students to enjoy, but the chaperones have a chance to make memories with their students. “Last year, we made a Pop-Tarts pancake, which is exactly how it sounds; we crumbled Pop-Tarts, put them into pancake batter and ate them. They were the best things I have ever eaten,” said Zimmerman.
Skiing in West Virginia does not always involve ideal conditions. Therefore, this year, the students found themselves staying in the cabin due to the cold weather. “The skiing conditions were awesome the first two days as there was not much ice at all. The last day was too cold, and it was icy,” said Gidwani. Freshman Bond Surber said, “It was extremely cold.”
Senior Hampton Henderson learned how to ski over this retreat. He took the same ski lesson as Gidwani. When he was not found on the slopes, he could be found watching, “[Scott] Schroer drink a whole cup full of ranch dressing,” said Henderson.
Every night, everyone would come together for dinner and a devotion having a lot of time to share their fun memories from the day. Gidwani said, “On the first day during my lesson, I was really, really bad, and my instructor clearly hated me. When I was on the ski lift alone with him, he told me that I should play outside more.” There is a famous memory of senior Kris Laurite her sophomore year “flying towards a lake,” said Zimmerman. “It hurt really bad, but it was fun at the same time,” said senior Laurite.
Students had to wake up very early the final morning to load the buses to head home. Sommer said, “I did not love hiking down the icy slope at 6 o’clock in the morning with all my luggage in -3-degree weather and slipping and falling, but it was worth it for the fun weekend.”
This is a beloved weekend retreat that students love to sign up and enjoy. There is more to this weekend than just skiing. Students grow closer in their relationships with their friends and classmates, learn new card games and fall down the mountain together which form a deeper bond. Zimmerman said that his favorite part of the retreat is to “hang out with students and play games.”
This weekend trip is a great time to better your skills of skiing and card games, as well as strengthening relationships with friends and teachers. The Wesleyan community is eager for next year’s retreat.