by Cassandra Capinpin (IB-1), photos by Alec Wienecke (IB-2)
Monday, October 16 marked the start of the retreat. We arrived at GESM early and met up with our friends. Some of us panicked about our IDs, but Frau Steinberg was kind enough to calm us down. We all gathered in the lobby as we waited for our friends to arrive. We laughed at the number of things we had to carry as we dropped them off by the buses. The ride to the camp was filled with card games, music, and laughter.
When we arrived, we took our bags and walked around, trying to find the pavilion. Walking uphill with the amount of bags we had burned. Honestly, we probably should have packed less. We passed by a few tents that we thought we were going to stay in, but they were empty, so we just followed the other people who were walking in front of us. When we finally got to the pavilion, we rushed to a table and sat down. Once again, the UNO cards were brought out and friendships were (almost) broken. The younger kids were sitting with people they were going to be rooming with and told to make posters for their doors. While they did that, the IB students just watched them and talked about tent arrangements.
After we ate lunch, the teachers told us to change into athletic clothes that could get wet. We lined up in the field according to our houses and tried to escape the glaring sun. At first, we thought we were going to be playing with the giant football in the corner of the field, but then we moved to a different location. We were wrong. We were going to be playing muddy foosball. My excitement immediately turned to dread when Irealised that my leggings would be muddy. While Dresden A played, my friends and I ran back to the pavilion to change out of our sneakers and into our Crocs. Smart choice.
When it was our turn to play, we climbed into the metal cage and fastened our loose goggles. They didn’treally help shield our eyes from the mud. Every time mud would get kicked to our faces, some mud would getin the goggles. I’m pretty sure we all ate (and inhaled) mud that day. I’m grateful we were able to leave ourglasses with the camp staff. After a round of kicking a ball in the mud, we were all itching to take a shower. Thegirls’ side was cramped but we managed. A few showers later, we were clean-ish.
After yet another shower, we moved to the pool. I was just glad to be out of the mud and finally surrounded bywater. My friends and I relaxed in the pool until teachers announced more team games. We got up and movedto the other pool while we waited for others to arrive. This game was way better than being in the mud. Wehad to swim to these orange pipes and hand it back to the rest of the team who would stack them. The biggest challenge was keeping the tower from collapsing.
After another shower, we had dinner and chose our tents. The younger students were led by teachers to ahouse and were shown to their respective dorms. We had a while to get settled before we were called back tothe field for a bonfire. We sat on the cement steps and sang some songs while sticks were being cut. Even though the beat for Hallelujah was a little bit off, we harmonised well when we sang Riptide and You Belong With Me. When we finished singing, we were told to go down by grade and grab a stick with a marshmallow. Some of my friends roasted theirs until their marshmallows were charred and oozing. I just wanted mine a little bit toasted and surrounded by graham crackers.
As students got ready for bed, some IB students got ready for their night shift jobs. Others just went straight to bed because they were going to do the morning wake up call. The first day was tiring but we ended the day well.
The second day of the retreat started off well. IB students wokeup early and walked to the pavilion for breakfast. After we ate, we gathered by the cement steps and looked for our houses. We were given our house shirts and a bandana. Once all of us changedto those shirts, our houses took pictures by the giant Quest letters.
When that finished, we were led away by our teachers to another area where we were joined by a woman from the Quest Adventure Camp team. She talked us through each activity and taught us how to play. A lot of the activities involved us coming up with strategies so we were able to interact with each other more. We learned how to use our strengths to our advantage and I think we all enjoyed it.
After getting caught in the rain, my friends and I decided to stay in our tent and play cards. A few rounds later and I think my friend was fed up with me shuffling the cards because she kept losing. We were halfway through a game when someone told us we could zipline. We walked to the tower and were helped into harnesses. We were told to just keep going up the stairs. At this point, I was getting very nervous. People assured me that it was safe so I just kept walking. When it was my turn to sit on the ledge, I hit my head on the beam. Thankfully, I was wearing my helmet. I was still smiling about it when I asked the guy fastening the buckles if I would survive. Spoiler: I did. I was perfectly fine. The view from up there was gorgeous. It took longer to go to the second tower than it did to return to the original tower. After I got out of the tower, I met up with my friends in the back to rock climb.
There was an amazing surprise waiting for us after dinner. My friend and I were getting our food when we noticed trays full of different types of suman. I was so happy to see those little rice cakes. I immediately got my favourite kind -- rice cake wrapped in leaves and smothered in a brown sauce. When we got back to our table, my friend and I tore through the leaves. Those rice cakes were staples from our childhood. Every bad day was made better by the sticky dish. I really hope everyone got to taste it.
After dessert, the pavilion was being set up for a game show. Unfortunately, there was no disco in the field. We were informed that the game show was Minute to Win It. Once again, we were called by House and we had to pick people to compete in each game. A few games in, the IB students were told that we could go to the bonfire area near our tents for a different game.
While we waited for the fire to be lit, the rules of the game were explained to us and we got our roles. 2 rounds of Werewolf later, the wolves won neither of them and we got ready for bed.
Day 3 was our last full day at camp. Naturally, a lot of us had mixed feelings about it. Some of us were surprised that we were more than half-way through the trip. Others were dreading the trip back because we would have to carry all of our bags again. Still, we started out the day like we did the day before. Breakfast. Oh, and we still had some suman! After that, we had another assembly in the field. This time, they told us we would be playing giant mud volleyball.
As we sat with our houses on the cement steps, we started picking people for the teams. 8 students from grades 5-8 would make one team and 8 students from grades 9-12 would be the other team. While they dug out things from the mud, the giant volleyball was being inflated. That volleyball was huge. It took entire teams to lift and throw it over the net. You had to have a bunch of people ready to catch the ball on the other side or else the 2 people there to catch it would get trampled.
The weather really couldn’t make its mind up today. It would flip between being so sunny it was hard to look up or raining. A few of us ran back to our tents to get jackets and rain coats only for it to be sunny when we returned. And then when we would put our coats away, it would start raining again. I’m pretty surer the sky’s main goal that day was to mess with us.
After we all got cleaned up, we had a couple hours to ourselves to do whatever we wanted. Some of the younger students went to the zipline tower and others went to the pool. My friends and I played cards for a bit before we started practicing for the talent show. It was a bit of a mad scramble trying to find the people who were supposed to do each act but we managed. We even built props throughout dinner using coloured paper.
We had a bit of time after dinner to get ready for the talent show. We practiced a couple times before we left to change clothes. Despite a few last-minute changes, the talent show was good. I was very impressed by all the acts that each house managed to prepare given the amount of time we had to practice.There were choreographed dances, songs, and even science experiments. Overall, the performances did not fail to entertain us and the talent show was a wonderful event to close the last night of the retreat.
On the 4th day, we woke up to heavy rain pouring outside our tents. Since no one else seemed to be awake, we thought it was still early enough to go back to bed. When we woke up again, the rain had calmed down enough that I could quickly run over and wake my friends up. We were told to pack up and head to the pavilion for breakfast. When we got there, we were told that due to the rain, the teachers have decided to suspend Zumba indefinitely. They didn’t want us to get sick and have to deal with the hassle of changing clothes again when it was already our last day there.
Relieved by the news that we wouldn’t have to dance, we ate breakfast and then cleaned our tents. We left our bags in a dry area and then awards were announced. No house was announced for 6th place. Instead, Berlin was 5th followed by Dresden in 4th place. Munchen and Münster shared 3rd place.
Frankfurt came in at 2nd place followed by the winner, Bremen, at 1st place. Some house captains were given candy to give to their members as a gift for scoring well.
After the cleanest dorms were announced, students were taken according to their grade to get their bags and go to their buses. Thankfully, we had friends who helped carry our bags and make sure we didn’t slip on the rainy pavement. When we got to our buses, we double-checked our bags before handing them over and looking for a seat. Tired from all the activities, the ride back to GESM was more quiet since many of us were asleep (or listening to music). When we arrived at school, some students checked in with their teachers before leaving with their parents. Other students were taken to their classrooms until they were dismissed at 2 pm.
While the days we spent in the retreat were tiring, I can’t deny that there were definitely many highlights and good memories that came from them. I don’t think we could forget being covered in mud or dancing to the macarena. The days were hot and tiring but I grew to love nights at camp. The
suman was definitely a reward, too. If you’re thinking of joining the retreat next year, here’s what I have to tell you. Bring sunscreen and bug spray. Sunburns hurt and the bugs will annoy you. Oh, and don’t forget to try the suman! It’s really good, I promise.