You would think asking forty-two members of Greek organizations to miss their first Friday back at Lehigh would end in a catastrophe. However, for the GEM mentees and Mentors who attended their annual retreat at Camp Canadensis, the weekend was extremely successful and kicked off the year just right. Although most were a bit sluggish when we arrived, things picked up right away with everyone’s favorite games… Icebreakers! Usually with icebreakers the participants try to act too cool and not really have fun with them, but not these GEMs. They were all very into the games, which was exactly what was needed to start the retreat on the right foot. If there’s one theme you should notice, it’s that GEMs are not your typical, average people. They know that this program will help them become better leaders and that weekend proved it by breaking out of their comfort zones, making fools of themselves, and ultimately establishing many new friendships along the way.
This weekend was full of small and large group bonding; ranging from dividing up into small clusters (MEDUSAS for life) and getting to know each other, to participating in a low ropes course, to spending some free time out on the lake or at a bonfire playing “Odds Are”. The mentees are put into clusters of 6-8 of them so that they can have more intimate conversations that would be difficult to have in an open forum of over forty people. This has been what I found to be the most valuable part of GEM because I have seen mentees take ideas from other chapters, change them into a way that would benefit their own chapter, and implement it with enormous amounts of success.
It seemed at times that the GEMs forgot they were at a camp an hour from Lehigh on a Friday because they were all enjoying their time there. I know for certain that very many long-lasting friendships were established at that retreat, and I’m excited to see how well the mentees work together moving forward. I know the retreat was but a small sample size of what to expect; however, it was all I needed to be sure that these GEMs will continue to surprise everyone with their potential to have an impact coming back to Lehigh from their 24 hours away in the Poconos and that they will continue to make change well into the future.
I believe it’s safe to say that the retreat was very suc cessful and that it will help lead to great GEM sessions in which the mentees will learn a lot about themselves and others and participate in some rather crucial and though-provoking dialogue. The retreat really pumped me up for the rest of the semester, and I’m ready to do whatever I can to help these mentees become outstanding leaders not only within their chapters, but also within the Greek community and Lehigh as a whole.