Residence Life retreat to focus on leadership, team-building skills

Written By Kayla Snyder, Copy Editor

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The Residence Life staff at Point Park University created an annual leadership retreat called Pioneer Adventure Weekend (PAW) which will take place on Oct. 14-15 at Deer Valley YMCA Family Camp in Fort Hill PA.

PAW is an event where 60 upperclassmen residential students and their Resident Educators (REs) bond and build leadership skills in an outdoor setting. The two day, overnight camping trip includes different activities such as low ropes courses, high ropes courses and other social events free of charge to residents.

 Upperclassman Resident Director and Point Park alumna Maria Ochoa came up with the idea upon returning to Point Park in January. It was something that interested the upperclassmen REs when it was pitched to them in August.

 “I wanted to revamp the program model and see what we could do with student engagement for upperclassmen students, because it is always a challenge to get them engaged in programs and activities on any level,” Ochoa said.

 The planning started in four committees, which each had their own specific purpose. RE and junior broadcast production major Bobby Bertha was a part of the Activities and Engagement Committee, which planned different events for students.

 “Outside of what the camp counselors are doing, the Activities Committee is more focused on the on the initial contact the students will have and how to get everyone comfortable with one another in the evening that we will be there,” Bertha said.

 Some of the events that Residence Life Staff has planned include a traditional barbeque dinner, a bonfire in the camp’s amphitheater, having different camping treats like s’mores and moonpies, flag football and hiking.

 “We wanted to make an event for upperclassmen resident students that allowed them to get off campus and do something fun, hopefully learn some leadership skills and we decided to do that with an annual event,” said Emily Yount, RE and senior multimedia major.

 Upperclassmen REs are focusing the year around the Leadership, Embracing Diversity, Academic Support and Personal and Physical Wellness (LEAP) program.

 “[LEAP] is supposed to make them more diverse and prepare them for leadership opportunities both on campus and in the real world after college,” Bertha said.

To follow the LEAP program guide for the year, the upperclassmen REs and Resident Directors decided to create the first PAW event in which the events are tailored to different leadership skills outside of the classroom.

“It’s easy to teach in a class how to specifically use these leadership skills in whatever career residential students are going to have in the future, but this kind of setting is more laid back and really teaches them how to communicate and be a leader within their peers which not everyone gets to do,” Yount said. “A lot of people aren’t going to be a leader on campus unless they really take the initiative to do that.”

 While any activity focused on skill building would be beneficial, Ochoa believes that an overnight retreat gives an experience not all students would get going somewhere central to Pittsburgh. 

“These are memories they’re going to keep talking about,” Ochoa said. “These are the memories that will get students involved from year to year.”

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