This past weekend (October 16th, 17th, and 18th) was the brotherhood retreat for the Beta Iota Chapter of Zeta Phi Eta. Still being a relatively small chapter we decided to rent a lake house in the middle of Florida. We got to bond together with the beauty of a freshwater Springs as our background.
On the first night most of our active brothers and an alumni gathered at our lake house (which may or may not have been haunted) and spent a relaxing night cooking together, chatting, and playing an icebreaker game where we told stories from our childhood. This night reminded me of an old fashioned slumber party like I used to have when I was little. I would eat food and stay up late talking about everything and nothing with my friends. The best part of that night was that even though we had this relatively big house all to ourselves, most of us ended up sleeping in the same room together, crowding together on beds, sleeping on the floor, just so that we could be close to each other.
The second day of retreat was the longest, but also the most fulfilling day. This was the day that our Prospective Members came to retreat to bond with us. At the beginning of the day we played a few ice breaker games to get warmed up to each other, then we went to the river. In groups of 2-4 we got in kayaks and canoes and set off into Rainbow River. I had never canoed before but luckily one of the Prospective Members in my group had and she did a great job leading the rest of my group down the river. Once I got the hang of canoeing I got to look and see what was around me. The river and the nature around us was beautiful and for the first time in a number of weeks I was able to relax and really embrace my surroundings. As a famous school cutting cool kid once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it.” This time on the river was the perfect time for us to stop and look around and embrace life. Our boat rides ended far too soon. We spent the rest of the day swimming in the Spring (some just dipping our feet in), hiking around the park, grilling up lunch and eating it all together. Before our Prospective Members left for the day we made sure to go around in a circle and highlight the best parts of the day and see what everyone learned. The Active Members time with the Prospective Members was great, and a well needed break from the hussle and bussle of work and school life. The rest of the night was both relaxing and stressful. I got to hangout with the rest of my brothers as we ate pizza, but also in my position of Chief Risk Officer (CRO) myself, the other CRO, the CEO and the COO had to sit down and pair up Bigs and Littles based on the Actives and the Prospective Members lists. That was a little stressful, but in the end I think the matches worked perfectly. We ended that night the same way we ended the other night, cramming together in a room upstairs and falling asleep.
Our last day was peaceful. We made breakfast, ate it together, some of us played cards, others took pictures outside. None of us really wanted to leave this peaceful (and once again, slightly haunted) place, but we knew we had to. So we packed up our bags, cleaned up the house, and left Rainbow River.
Our Fraternity is all about professionalism and preparing to strive in the future, but I also feel like sometimes we forget that we are also a brotherhood, a family. This retreat, I believe, helped instill that fact into everyone there. Our family is strong and beautiful, just like the nature of Rainbow River, and I know that we will keep growing stronger day by day.