This past weekend, I, along with other incredible women at CatholicU, embarked on our annual women’s retreat at a camp in Maryland. The camp is beautiful and so is being in the presence of so many dedicated, wonderful women. Retreats are something I’m passionate about everyone trying at least once in their lifetime, at each stage of their life. Transitioning into adulthood, though, it is especially important to take time to unplug and create intentional community. I don’t ever stop talking about women’s ministry because it’s been such an anchor for my faith and social life.
What is a Retreat Weekend?
Amongst the misconceptions about retreats, people often believe retreatants sit in silence at meals, don’t talk to one another, have no free time, and pray all day. While there is a time for prayer, retreats are weekends to just be yourself and just be in general. These weekends give space for you to let go of anxieties and just be. The goal is not to have a transformative experience that will alter your life path on one retreat. If you do have a transformation, that’s fantastic, but no one expects you to come back home an entirely new person. However, it is expected that you’ll come back feeling good about yourself and the people around you in whatever way that turns out for you. It could be a physical, spiritual or emotional sense of rejuvenation.
Where do you eat, sleep, and shower?
I can’t speak for every camp, but I want to clarify that we stayed in nice, heated lodges with bathrooms and showers. Please, don’t be afraid of sleeping in a cabin or lodge. It’s not bad at all. In fact, it’s nice to feel like you’re a kid back at sleepaway camp bunking with your friends. If you have never had that experience, it’s like in The Parent Trap, when Linsday Lohan and her twin eat Oreos and peanut butter on their cabin beds. Except for me, it’s hoarding Sour Patch Kids and Cheez Its, so my friends and I can stay up chatting and snacking in the room. In preparation for retreat, we bought so many snacks and a ton of hot chocolate and coffee. You will not starve on retreat if you’re hesitant about that. In addition, you receive three meals a day — but let’s be honest here, the snacks are the best part.
After the Retreat
I like to believe that retreat doesn’t ever end. We are constantly called by God in our everyday lives to be present, focused, and reflective. This looks different for everyone, but for me it’s putting on headphones and journaling in a chapel for 30 minutes a day. After the retreat weekend, women are typically hungry to maintain the community they built. Sharing yourself with other women and lifting one another up leaves an imprint on your soul. Seeing those women on campus and hugging them, grabbing coffee or going to events with each other is where the best part of retreat is seen — we crave to love and be loved continually.