2000-06-17 / Columnists

From the Shores of

Beach Channel High School

On June 8, 2000, at 3:30 p.m., Beach Channel’s leadership team embarked on a three-day retreat. The team of 32 arrived at Camp LouEmma in New Jersey’s bucolic Vernon Valley site at 7 p.m.

Camp LouEmma is nestled in the sylvan greenery of rolling hills. It has full capacity of 275, but on this occasion Beach Channel was the only group housed.

The activities were numerous and most participants agreed that three days was too short to fully explore them. The activities included swimming in the camp’s huge outdoor pool, tennis, basketball, and soccer. Boating and fishing with an occasional dip in the lake was also part of the fun. One students summarized it nicely when she referred to the camp as a home with lots of friends and freedom. The food and accommodations were also very satisfactory.

On Thursday night the BBQ dinner took place around the campfire on the lakeside. One teacher boasted that was the best BBQ he had for a long while.

The hardy BCHS team also enjoyed the two to three mile return hike up the Appalachian Trail. This was physically challenging to everyone, especially the older teachers and parents. Through team spirit and support, everyone who started finished. Some of the most courageous participants, like Ms. Butcher, persevered to the finish on both trips.

By far, the most meaningful aspect of the retreat was the seminars and group exchanges under the encouraging voices of the organizers, Mr. Gellert and Reverend Maddox. Most of the 32-member team confirmed that the seminars were both rewarding and inspiring. Everyone of the participants appeared to be in an environment which allowed free speech and easy communication. Projects were done in small groups sometimes on a competitive basis or as a whole unit.

Sometimes groups were comprised of unfamiliar faces, but this did not hinder the free and fair flow of information and suggestions. The groups got to know each other, but more importantly, the individual teachers had the opportunity to learn more about each other.

Fortunately, Principal Gassaway was able to escape his hectic schedule to participate in his learning venture. He was there for the Saturday hike and lent a very attentive ear with noticeable reticence to what was said by the participants in seminars and group gatherings. Freedom of expression and uninhibited contributions from everyone, including the students, seemed to be the order of the day. The main purpose of this trip was to foster and encourage leadership qualities among the team members in their effort to make BCHS and its neighborhood a better place in which to study, live and work.

Since it is the first effort of this kind, Mr. Gellert summarized the optimistic attitude of those taking part in the words of a Chinese sage, "That the longest voyage starts with the first step." As a follow-up to the retreat, there is a workshop billed for June 24 at BCHS.

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