Since 2018, Mount Marty University undergraduate students have had the unique opportunity to participate in two outdoor adventure retreats—one to the Black Hills and another to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado—as part of their freshman and sophomore-year curriculum.
A hallmark of the university’s renewed core curriculum is that students are led to find their place in the world through intentional transformational experiences. Offered through the university’s Benedictine Leadership Institute (BLI) and at no additional cost above tuition, each retreat is rooted in the Benedictine way of life as an opportunity for students to examine who they are and how they will impact the world.
“The retreats teach our students how to live lives that are filled with meaning and purpose and capable of personal transformation. This requires them to develop the ability to examine their lives and reflect upon the daily habits that form them into the type of person they are,” said Mount Marty University Professor and BLI Director Joseph Rutten. “We’re training them to use their minds and hearts to impact the world both personally and professionally.”
While recent trips had to be canceled due to the pandemic, this fall, a group of sophomore students made their way to Colorado to spend four days in Estes Park. Students spent time reflecting with small groups, participating in team-building activities and hiking the Rocky Mountains during the retreat.
At the end of the trip, students returned to Yankton with a greater understanding of who they are, how to articulate their purpose and values and how to identify and overcome their fears. In a world where young people are looking for direction and the ability to impact others, nearly every student said the retreat helped them better understand that their life has purpose.
While hiking up to Bible Point in Estes Park, Brynn Dilly, a sophomore majoring in pre-physical therapy who attended the 2021 Rocky Mountain retreat, shared, “We made our way along this beautiful hike, the scenery was just gorgeous, and when we got up to the top and looked out, it seemed like you could see the entire state. It was beautiful. But something that really struck me was the mailbox up there that’s full of journals and Bibles and notes praising God for His creation. It just made me realize how fortunate I was to be able to experience that and realize that I need to step out of my comfort zone more and be open to new experiences.”
While Dilly shared that she was nervous about the trip at first because she didn’t know many of her classmates yet, in the end, she said she returned with new connections and deep satisfaction for having gone.
In April 2022, the second half of the sophomore class will head to Colorado, and the freshmen to the Black Hills.