Despite emergency, retreat a success, students say

On March 10 and 11, many female students participated in Cosumnes River College’s first women’s-only weekend getaway at Woodleaf in Challenge, CA.

The retreat was organized by the Focus 4 Women program at CRC and was designed to be a chance for female students to “begin the journey to heal your mind, body and soul by focusing on self-care, self-love, self-healing and meditation.”

“I really liked it,” said Kelly Melanson, 21, a business administration major. “It was a good chance for everyone to relax and take a break from everything going on in their life and in school or work.”

Melanson said the location was beautiful and exceeded her expectations. Melanson also said that her favorite part of the retreat was the talent show and karaoke night.

“Everyone who was performing was part of the retreat, so it was really cool supporting the people around you and discovering other people’s talents,” Melanson said. “They were really sharing a part of themselves with you and I feel it helped us all as a group get closer to each other.”

Diana Atkins, a 77-year-old human services major, also said that her one of her favorite parts of the retreat was the entertainment.

“It was good to watch the professors come out of their suits and be human,” Atkins said. “It was fun to watch them have fun.”

But what attendees said was the most rewarding aspect of the trip was the friendships that were made.

“I’ve been here since 2014, and I think I met more people at the retreat than all the years I’ve been here,” Atkins said.

Ruby Olivares, a 22-year-old early childhood development major said she was able to create lasting bonds with the students in her cabin.

“It was an immediate bond that I didn’t expect because I thought I would be afraid of being with other people,” said 22-year-old Ruby Olivares, an early childhood development major.

“Throughout the whole time that we were there, we became really good friends,” Olivares said.

However, a medical emergency on the first of the night of the retreat caused some concern among the attendees.

An epileptic student had multiple seizures in the middle of the night, said Melanson, who heard about the emergency the next morning at breakfast in an announcement by the event leaders.

The leader of the cabin where the emergency had occurred delegated tasks to students to try and find the staff members at the retreat to try and get help, said Melanson. They were got medical help for the student and she returned back to the campgrounds the next morning, Melanson said.

Even though the student was fine, attendees were concerned about how the emergency was handled.

“What bothered me was that it took so long for her to get some help,” said Atkins, who was in the cabin next door.

Atkins said that paramedics did not arrive until at least an hour later, and that it took a long time to be able to contact them because the grounds had no phone reception.

Another issue was that all leaders for the cabins where students were sleeping were students themselves, Melanson said. Furthermore, the staff members coordinating the event did not tell attendees where to find them in case of an emergency, Melanson said.

Melanson said, however, that what happened was out of the coordinator’s control.

“I think that was a big mistake but also, it’s their first event,” said Melanson. “No one could have seen that coming.”

Melanson said that it was unfortunate that the emergency occurred in the middle of the night because at all other times, everything was organized well and there were always people to turn to for help. Poor communication between the coordinators and the staff at the Woodleaf retreat was the real problem, said Melanson.

In the end, despite the complications, students said that it was definitely an experience they would do again.

“I thought it was a really great experience and I am very grateful for the women who put it together,” said Olivares.

As more events occur, students who attended believed that they will only improve.

“I think for a first-time event, even with everything that happened, it was really good and I think it’ll only get better,” Melanson said.