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Mid-year retreat: Reflect, relax, refocus

By: Aimee Junget

I am now halfway through my Conservation Corps term. What does that even mean? Am I supposed to feel excited? Sad? Stronger? Scared? The truth is, I feel all of them! As we reach this point in our term, it is expected to feel a mix of emotions. Fortunately for the Field Crews, we take a week in July for our Mid-year Retreat. So here’s a little blog about one of the best weeks of our term.

The retreat provides the opportunity to reflect on the last five months, relax with our fellow corps members, and refocus for the next five months. All the crews from the Central District camp out and spend the week doing some learning, relaxing, and lots of competing. Participation in the “Corps Olympics” is a tradition at Mid-year retreat. Each crew, consisting of 4-5 members, competes in 3 events: the relay races, a scavenger hunt, and tug of war. Things tend to get pretty heated, as any 18-25 year old is motivated by the pride that comes with saying your crew is #1 (and some candy, of course). I am proud to say that the St. Paul Crew tied with our Metro Crew cohorts to win the scavenger hunt.  However, we did not fare so well in tug of war. But brains over brawn, right?

The first morning of the retreat, our crews also listened to a speaker. The speaker that shared his message with the crew this year spoke about the value of always asking “Why?” That simple question guided him to exploring his passions as a young boy, earning a PhD, and launching a career as a researcher forging a path in sustainability. He left us with a challenge to never stop asking questions and to always let curiosity lead us.

For me right now, asking questions is guiding me through the mix of emotions that comes with mid-year. I ask “How have I changed from the beginning of the term?” in hopes to reflect on the skills I have gained. “Why am I doing the Corps in the first place?” in hopes to refocus my goals for the second half of the year. I can’t help but admit that curiosity is what led me to join the Conservation Corps in the first place. There was the curiosity about the field of natural resources, yes, but also the curiosity to test my personal strength and ways of thinking that I knew would be challenged by a term of service. Now curiosity has me wondering what adventures the second half of the term will bring!