It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back at Bluffton for two days already! I moved back onto campus on Tuesday, which was a rather warm experience both in terms of temperature and welcome! And I spent the past two days at the fall retreat for Bluffton’s Leadership Development Program. Basically, campus student leaders and student life faculty spend a couple days together at our nature preserve. Tomorrow the new students (first years and transfers) move in, followed by returning students on Saturday and Sunday! My amazing roommate returns home to campus on Saturday, so I am REALLY looking forward to that day! :) The weekend is filled with all kinds of welcome back activities, and classes start Monday! I am also really looking forward to that day!
So, how has my sophomore year been so far? Pretty fantastic. If this is any indication of what is to come, it’s going to be an incredible year. Being on campus four days earlier than most everyone I hang out with has been a great opportunity to get to know new people and turn acquaintances into friends. The LDP retreat was time well spent. It was very Bluffton…full of community and joy and fun and God and growth and laughter! We played lots of community-building (and just plain fun) games, learned how to understand and use our God-given gifts and strengths, and worshiped together. The first day was mostly ice-breakers and introduction to the leadership material we covered, followed by a bonfire, singing, smores, and a night hike! I’m not much of a hiker, but I decided to go on the night hike simply because the nature preserve closes at dusk, so it was my one chance to see it in the dark! One of the most memorable parts of the hike was crossing the giant swinging bridge over the creek in the pitch dark with about 50 other people, most of whom were JUMPING! It was terrifying! But since I survived, it’s one of those epic college memories! We also got to see the nature preserve lake with the super bright moon glowing in the sky, which was stunning! And last but not least, we got to make fireworks in our mouths with lifesaver mints. (quote: "this is the only time in your lives that you'll be asked to chew with your mouth really wide open while someone else looks in!") If you’ve never tried this, you really should. It was so much fun!
Then today we went more in-depth with our training on gifts and strengths-based leadership, played lots more games, sang crazy songs, put on skits about life at Bluffton, did guided meditation with our dean, and spent time brainstorming and planning for our organizations. My favorite part of the day was this crazy game called “It’s A What?” Basically, it is a game where tons of people sit in a circle and pass items around the circle in rhythm, telling one neighbor what the item is while listening to see what the next item is at well. I realize this sounds ridiculous and like no fun at all, but it is absolutely hilarious. And guided meditation was pretty cool too…different than what I’m used to, but it was a good experience!
Throughout the retreat, I couldn’t help but think about how unique Bluffton is. There is something so wonderful about being at a college where it is normal and expected for faculty and students to spend time getting to know one another, worshiping God together, and sharing lots and lots of laughter! I love this place so much because it’s a Kingdom community….a community where who we are together is greater than who we could be alone. A community that pushes me to do and think and become things I could never have imagined. A community in which God lives and breathes.
“Sing praises to God, for God has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
God is here.