Every year, just after March break, the Junior Class goes to rural Massachusetts for a day and a night of bonding and learning, all without using phones or other electronics.
The 2023 Junior Leadership Retreat began on Friday, March 31, and students arrived back on campus in the mid-afternoon on Saturday, April 1. The class—along with faculty advisors Brendan Crowley, Desiree Sheff, Grant Hightower, Brad Moriarty, and Henry Fairfax—drove to Charlton, Massachusetts to spend a night at Nature’s Classroom at Prindle Pond.
The activities began before students had even departed Concord Academy’s campus, with a gathering in the Chapel to complete a worksheet of personal fun facts and reflections. After a traffic-filled drive through western Massachusetts, the class arrived at the retreat location, collected their overnight bags, and set off to find their room assignments.
A major goal of the excursion is to enable students to get to know those outside of their friend groups. Roommate assignments are designed to help push these boundaries, as are randomized small groups in which most activities take place. The two dormitory buildings each held around 13 rooms. Complete with bunk beds and a private bathroom, each room accommodated three or four students.
After setting up their rooms, the class gathered in a multi-purpose room where the majority of the retreat's activities took place. Here, Fairfax gave a brief talk about his experience with leadership and ran a discussion on the core values needed to guide others. After dinner, students gathered again in this space for additional discussions on ethics and leadership styles with a brief break for cookies.
Activities for the day concluded around 9:30 p.m., and the class enjoyed an hour of free time with new and old friends before rooms-in at 10:30 p.m. and lights out at 11:00 p.m. The next day, the class gathered for breakfast after packing up their rooms and loading the bus with bags. The day continued with a few games and a song battle, in which a dance and sing-along to the Barney theme song was crowned the winner.
As the day progressed, things took a more serious turn with discussions about ways the class could improve, planning for action steps, and a conversation about the mission statement as a guiding force. During this time, the small groups were divided amongst classrooms beneath the dorms and some were even able to take a walk to Prindle Pond during a pause in the rain.
After lunch and a presentation of ideas, students checked that they had all of their things before boarding the buses and taking the drive back to school, in the hopes of arriving before the 3:00 beginning of the track meet. Once back at CA, students gathered their bags, collected their phones, and headed off to their next commitment or to rest and relax.