Storm forces Awakening Retreat to relocate



Students await instruction after arriving at Fountainbleau State Park in Mandeville, La., for the biannual Awakening retreat. The retreat had undergone several changes after the threat of a tropical storm led to it being postponed in the interest of safety.


The biannual Awakening retreat was postponed two weeks due to Tropical Storm Karen, causing disruptions in plans and changes in numbers.

The retreat, initially planned for the weekend of Friday, Oct. 4-6, at Camp Whispering Pines in Independence, La., was moved to Oct. 18-20 at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, La.

University Ministry Assistant Director Laura Alexander explained that the safety of the students was the most important aspect of the weekend for the staff involved with the retreat.

“Tropical Storm Karen had the potential to be quite harmful, and being as safe as possible was just too important to let the retreat occur right in the path of the storm,” Alexander said.

Alexander said that no damage occurred at Camp Whispering Pines, but the Girl Scouts who run the camp property were uncomfortable with students being at the campsite with the threat of a tree falling down or the power going out.

The location of the retreat changed because Camp Whispering Pines was booked for the rest of the semester, while Fountainbleu State Park had an opening during a weekend just two weeks after the original dates.

Although multiple aspects of the retreat were changed due to the different location, the activities throughout the weekend remained the same, and students enjoyed the same traditional Awakening experience.

Alexander cited that dozens of students work as staff for this retreat.Plans were adjusted because of the date change, such as food prep and numbers of retreaters and staff members, as some could not commit to the new weekend.

Religious studies senior Chad Aubert is one of the directors for the retreat. All of the retreat leaders have been working on organizing the retreat for the last two months.

Aubert said that he has put a lot of energy and time throughout his semester planning this weekend of faith and community.

“Though the postponement of the retreat was unfortunate, all of us on staff remained enthusiastic and trusting that our efforts would continue to reveal God’s glory,” Aubert said.

52 staff members and 44 new retreaters were present at Awakening this semester. Prior to the postponement, 61 staff members and 60 new retreaters were expected to attend. Latin American Studies and psychology junior Marion Boreros was one of the leaders of the retreat.

“Smaller numbers allowed for us to have the most personal and intimate Awakening we’ve had in a while,” Boreros said.

Micah Hebert, mass communication junior and contributing writer to The Maroon, said that he attended Awakening for the first time this semester.

“At first I was bummed it was moved back two weeks, but this allowed me more time to get excited. The different location did not seem to negatively affect the activities of the weekend and I still had a delightful time. I’m really happy I attended,” Herbert said.

Many students expressed satisfaction with the retreat and said that they were pleased with the outcome of the weekend despite the smaller number of attendees and the location change.