Sept. 5, 2016 | Student Success |
The Center for Student Success hosted a retreat for first-year transfer students through the Center’s first year experience program, HU Square 1, Saturday, August 27. The event took place at the Buffalo National River in Ponca, Arkansas, and consisted of community-building activities and a 5.5 mile float trip.
Approximately 35 students and five faculty members participated in the retreat. Returning students and peer guides also volunteered to help first-year transfer students adjust to University culture.
Dr. Kevin Kehl, dean of the Center for Student Success, said the retreat was created as a means for transfer students to use previous college experiences as a launch pad for new connections.
“We think a big part of a successful Harding experience — or of maximizing the Harding experience — is making connections to people,” Kehl said. “We wanted to create a cohort group among transfer students who share that experience already that’s quite different from an entering freshman.”
Students and faculty first met in front of the Jim Bill McInteer Bible and World Missions Center for breakfast and transportation. Once arriving at the Buffalo National River, the group gathered for community-building activities and a spiritual message from Drs. Todd Patten, professor of counseling, and Marc Fager, assistant professor of education.
Participants spent approximately three and a half hours on the river with two people per canoe. Some students stopped to jump off bluffs or use a nearby rope swing. According to Kehl, the retreat cost was covered by HU Square 1 in order to provide students the opportunity to interact with new people.
“I think students can enhance their total experience by enjoying some of the beautiful scenery and outdoor activities found just beyond our campus,” Kehl said. “HU Square 1 wants our students to share these experiences and memories that they might not be able to create by themselves.”
HU Square 1 began hosting annual retreats for first-year students in 2014 as a means for students to develop new relationships and have the experience of beginning college together. For transfer students, that experience has already occurred.
Junior Madeline Holloway, who transferred last year, attended the trip as a returning transfer student. She said the retreat was different than previous first-year student events.
“For transfer students, it’s more about learning social aspects rather than learning how to be in college,” Holloway said. “I felt like, just after being with them for a day, I made a connection and was able to help them feel more comfortable.”
A freshman retreat for all first-year students will be held Sept. 10 at Camp Wyldewood.