Hello from Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center in Reisterstown, MD, home of Volunteer Maryland Class 23’s Mid-Year Retreat! While the Bon Jovi reference in the title of this post is meant to refer to the halfway point in our year, you could also take it to refer to the halfway point of our Mid-Year Retreat. It’s been a different experience from my Mid-Year Retreat last year, in more than one way. Not only is this a two day retreat (mine was one day), but it’s a different group of people and I’m in a different position (RC, not VMC). I got to see (and participate in) some of the planning process this year; whereas last year, I just showed up and marveled at how well put together the day was. I was given the opportunity this year to solicit in-kind donations for prizes to help recognize the hard work of the VMCs (together with my co-RC, Corrine, we acquired over $1,000 in donations); whereas last year, I simply rejoiced in the gift of a S’more making set—specifically the chocolate bar—which everyone got in anticipation of a bonfire that tragically didn’t happen due to snow.
This probably sounds a little different from other VM trainings you’ve read about on the blog, but that’s because it is. The Mid-YearRetreat is as much about having fun as it is about reflecting on the year thus far and planning for the remainder of the year to come. Yesterday, we had a scavenger hunt contest, followed by a check-in and review of the goals that the VMCs set in the beginning of the year. We ended the official training day with a service project lead by a former VMC, who now works here at Pearlstone. But that wasn’t really the end of the day. After a delicious dinner, we spent the evening playing games, making fools of ourselves singing karaoke, and just generally having a great time. Today, the VM Staff will lead break-out training sessions on a variety of topics, interspersed with some more random prize drawings and a big group photo.
The year thus far has had its share of challenges (getting the in-kind donations for this retreat might just top the list), but it has also had some great highlights (attending a trail building project with Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, helping out on the Philips Wharf Fishmobile, attending the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s volunteer open house, and the list goes on). The point of a retreat is to get away from it all, relax, refresh, and get energized to continue the work at hand. Hearing all about the successes (and challenges) the VMCs have had so far this year has definitely done that for me and I look forward to sharing those stories, and more, here on the VM blog over the last few months of this service year! Thanks for reading!