By Aaron Griffith, AmeriCorps Member, Serving at McDonough Elementary School 

From January 21 to January 23, the City Year New Hampshire community had the opportunity to come together for our Advanced Training Retreat (ATR). Located at the beautiful Camp Deer Run in Alton on the southern part of Lake Winnipesaukee, ATR served as a time of reflection at the midpoint of our year of service. At the beginning of the year, we all came together for Basic Training Retreat, and it was interesting to see how far we’ve come as individuals, teams, and a community since that time just six months ago. 

The first day of the retreat began with our Hour 2s with our teams, team leaders, and program managers. It was a reflective time to examine how far we’ve come since the start of the year and how we want to continue to grow for the remainder of the year. The first day also consisted of a deeper exploration of the concepts of Power and Idealism and a presentation of our service assessment, which looked at evaluative data from our service thus far. Our FY’15 Corps is accomplishing some pretty great things, as seen by the high numbers of students being served and satisfaction rates from our partner teachers! Finally, we participated in a powerful and necessary workshop called “Exploring Team Dynamics” which enabled individuals to better understand where they and others are at with regard to their teams and their service.

The second day of the retreat included teach-backs from some of the corps members who had the opportunity to attend the North East Leadership Academy conference in December. I had the opportunity to attend NELA, and it was a great time to reflect back on my experience there and understand how I can continue to use those teachings as we move forward in our service. In the afternoon, City Year Senior Vice President and Dean Charlie Rose lead some powerful and emotional site building activities with the entire community. That evening, we had an awesome (and hilarious!) talent show for everyone to enjoy.

The last day of ATR included an examination of our experience with the Idealist’s Journey, an engaging appreciation activity, and opening the letters that we wrote to ourselves at BTR and writing a new letter for this retreat. Our day ended with a Community Meeting after traveling back to the office in Manchester. 

Mixed into all of these activities and workshops were awesome meals prepared by the wonderful staff at Camp Deer Run, leisure activities including ping pong, foosball, board games, and reading by a cozy fireplace, as well as traditional parts of City Year culture, including Unity Rally every morning. It was a great three days to recharge our spirit, discipline, purpose, and pride as we prepare for the next five months of service!

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