Leadership Development retreat
Faith journeys explored during Leadership Development Program retreat
A long-running Bluffton University tradition was revived after a brief hiatus. Nearly 40 students and 10 faculty/staff members recently participated in the Leadership Development Program’s winter retreat. Students in leadership positions on campus were invited to take part including: hall directors, resident assistants, hall chaplains, student senators, the multicultural student organization, worship leaders and the Marbeck Center board.
“It’s an opportunity for student leaders to come together, to sharpen their leadership skills, to encourage each other and to build community on campus, so we can work together better,” said Stephen “Tig” Intagliata, campus pastor.
Last year, the overnight retreat did not take place, as student life officials assessed the program. However, Dr. Julie DeGraw, vice president for student life and dean of students says, the 2016 theme, “Telling Our Stories, Go Deep,” brought renewed energy to the event. The theme is part of a year-long effort at Bluffton University to increase faith mentoring.
DeGraw says she was talking to students this fall about faith and the ongoing efforts to increase faith mentorship between faculty/staff members and students.
DeGraw says the goal of the retreat was to give participants the tools to speak freely about faith with their peers.
The group traveled to Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, Mich., and the highlight of the event was an evening session where two staff members and two students shared lessons from their faith journeys. Participants then broke into pairs, to discuss their own paths to faith.
“I see God so much through nature and honest conversations. Both of those happened at Camp Friedenswald. Being able to share with the group some of the ways I witnessed the wonder of God and to be vulnerable with some of my struggles was a blessing. It led to deeper conversations and time well spent,” said Katey Ebaugh ’18, sociology major, student senator and hall chaplain.
The Leadership Development Program was instituted more than twenty years ago by the late Dr. Don Schweingruber, former vice president and dean of student life. Previous retreats focused on themes such as servant leadership and assessing strengths. For some, the 2016 theme was more personal.
“It was a meaningful time and was very powerful for the students. It forced us to share, to be open and to be vulnerable,” said Intagliata. “My hope is that we can create a climate on campus where stories of faith happen more naturally, more often. So we can learn, understand and encourage each other and feel more part of a community of faith at Bluffton.”
It’s an opportunity for student leaders to come together, to sharpen their leadership skills, to encourage each other and to build community on campus, so we can work together better."