This weekend 55 freshman will have the opportunity to experience their first escape from campus since move-in day at the fourth-annual First Year Escape Retreat.
“[It] is an opportunity for first years to get off campus for an overnight experience wherein they will get to know other first-years while reflecting on their first few weeks of college,” said Escape Retreat Student Director Marc Lee ’17.
The roughly 24-hour retreat offers a quick break from campus life at Camp Jewell in Colebrook, Conn., in addition to offering FYE Thrive credit. Activities such as archery, a climbing wall, arts and crafts, various sports and a beachfront are offered at the campground. Attendees also have the opportunity to speak with upperclassmen on their own time of their experiences at Fairfield. “They also hear a talk from an upperclassmen about the college experience and have an opportunity to reflect on that talk with others,” said Lee.
Lee, who attended the retreat two years ago, remembers his experience fondly. “I met several of my closest friends on it, and I am still close with them today.”
As freshmen look to settle into their lives at Fairfield, Lee recommends the retreat to anyone who is looking to meet people or wants a small break from campus. For Rachel Carlowicz ‘18, the Escape Retreat provided an opportunity to see beyond the confines of campus.
“I didn’t realize how much of a bubble Fairfield is or how much of a break from the chaos I needed until the bus was pulling away from campus. [Afterwards], I felt more comfortable on campus. I genuinely felt happier and more calm after going on the retreat.”
After speaking with a retreat leader, Emma Rybacki ‘19 says she decided to go on the retreat in order to get to know her classmates in a non-academic setting. Rybacki expressed her hopes for the retreat in this way: “I hope that with this retreat I can broaden my friend circle and get to know more than just a handful of first years who share classes with me.”
Reverend Mark Scalese S.J., director of campus ministry, sees the retreat as an alternative to the pressures of alcohol culture on campus. “I think that it’s an opportunity for students to meet other students who might be feeling the similar pressure and might be similarly not necessarily ready to dive into that.”
Sophomore Joseph Imbriani, Escape Retreat small group leader and alum of the retreat, felt similarly. “The first few weeks at school can almost feel intimidating and this is a great way to literally escape,” he said.
According to Scalese, the goal of the retreat is for freshmen to meet people, other than those they live with or see every day. Imbriani echoes the sentiment, saying, “While there, I met a lot of new people and some of those people are still my good friends today. I would definitely recommend it to first-years.”
“The Escape Retreat is a one-time opportunity that has seen the start of many strong and lasting relationships among many of its participants which makes it well worth the time spent to be there,” says Lee.