Twenty-two freshmen returned this weekend with a “Fresh Look”. Every year SLU sponsors the Fresh Look retreat, a weekend event intended for freshmen looking to build new relationships and learn more about college life.
The Fresh Look retreat was first conceived in 1996 by Father Bob Philips and a group of first-year students. While having pizza with some freshmen, the Jesuit asked his group if they would have attended a first year introduction retreat had one been offered, and they all seemed pretty enthusiastic about the idea. These students molded the layout of a retreat that gave birth to the very first Fresh Look in January 1996. It is held at SLU’s privately-owned Saint Louis University Lay Center up in Louisiana, Missouri.
“[The retreat’s] goal is to provide first-year students with an opportunity to hear from sophomores who still have their first year experience fresh in their mind since they were just in those shoes the year before,” Griesedeck campus minister and retreat sponsor Robby Francis said. At this year’s retreat group, speeches were held called ‘Who Have I Been,’ ‘Who Am I Now,’ ‘Reconciliation,’ and ‘Who Do I Desire to Be.’ The group talks were followed by smaller discussions where students were provided an opportunity to open up to each other.
Outside of the more targeted section of the program, students participated in various activities including nature walks, stargazing, hiking, and other activities.
Many students left this year’s retreat having had a positive experience. Both leaders and retreaters seemed to have enjoyed themselves.
“I would say for me, the Fresh Look Retreat was an amazing experience. I was able to meet many amazing people and hear their stories,” sophomore group leader John Ketzner said. Ketzner found that the opportunity to hear from other students about their faith and approach to faith strengthened his own beliefs.
“I believe that the more that one expands their views in Christianity and try to use other Christian’s ideas to help build their own faith, the closer they will get to God. That is what Fresh Look did for me,” Ketzner said.
Dayton Nelson, a freshman attendee, echoed the sentiment of spiritual enrichment, though he also appreciated the time to relax and think. Maria Yamnitz also had a positive experience, especially in the friends she found.
“It was just a beautiful bonding experience,” Yamnitz said. “I feel like I left with 40 new best friends. I felt like I grew as a whole person spiritually and emotionally.”