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The School Newspaper of Harriton High School

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The School Newspaper of Harriton High School

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Rowdy Roosters, Rappers, and Reeking Running Shoes: Inside the 2023 IB Junior Retreat Experience

Graphic by Doris Abdolian
The IB Junior cohort takes a group photo around the tree they planted to commemorate their stay at the College Settlement Camp.

Trudging against the bitterness of the cold night, amongus were none other than walking sharks, pretzel-fingered contortionists, shoe-sniffing clairvoyants, menacing coyotes, and the ever-so-infamous mystery meat. No, this isn’t the beginning of another Friday the 13th sequel but simply the nutshell of this year’s IB Junior Retreat experience. 


Every October, IB Juniors are invited to excurse to the College Settlement Camp in Horsham, Pennsylvania to engage in team-building activities that build upon the IB Diploma’s primary principles: inquiry, knowledge, critical thinking, communication, morality, open-mindedness, compassion, risk-taking, balance, and reflectiveness. Overall, the activities shaped our perceptions of our peers and our society. Ah, yes. Nothing better than being away from school for two days to merely bond with our peers, or develop “camaraderie” as Sasha Kraus put it. 


The IB juniors engage in the Spider Web activity, hoisting and manuevering each of their peers through different-sized openings. Photo by Andrew Dieu

We kicked off the first day greeting our bright-eyed counselors and unpacking all our belongings in our cabins that smelled of, well, cabin. Do not get us started on how we panicked over crickets infiltrating our showers and the “comfort” of our Princess and the Pea-style bunk bed mattresses. We then congregated at the basketball court to discuss the magic of feelings, and we wrapped it all up with trust falls, stunts, and Mission-Impossible-style activities. Our trust skills were put to the test as we were tasked with having to hoist each other up a 10-foot wall. We may have mastered the art of Tom Cruise’s slickness.


We then wandered into what felt like an atramentous void until we arrived at a blazing bonfire that may have not warmed us nor illuminated the space, but warmed our hearts and illuminated our faces. We sang campfire songs that affirmed how the counselors were solely accustomed to mentoring fifth graders, and improvised skits consisting of human animatronic store sensors, dysfunctional revolving doors, and Swedish-shouting cash registers. 


 Then, alas, we arrived at that drumroll moment: the annual talent show. Joel Simon and two other campers blew the raging crowd of 70 away with their ardent MC gifts. Truly, they owned the stage, the mic, and the show altogether. If they didn’t deserve a mic drop, I don’t know who would. The talents ranged from unsettling contortion, to Frank Sinatra serenades, to TOB horror poems, to a rap from a possible fifth secret member of the Sugar Hill Gang. 

The IB juniors gather around a bonfire to sing campfire songs and improvise sketches. Photo by Andrew Dieu

Once the morning came, the cricket chirps subdued, and the students for the first time witnessed their teachers in their “morning modes.” We kicked off our second day with a cup of English Breakfast tea, sweet citrus, and syrupy French toast. 


Lastly, to commemorate our stay at the camp, we sang happy birthday to a tree, which we named “Snoelle,” while getting constantly interrupted by the incessant hum of the lawn mower and constant cock-a-doodle-doos from the rowdy roosters. In a way, it made the song more harmonious. 


The takeaways from the trip are that Mr. Joseph is absolutely a push-up machine, and Jacob Rudolph may become the next Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra Jr. 2.0. Additionally, it is advisable to either bring 5 blankets or pajama shorts, wear at least three layers in 40-degree weather, pack your own cheeseburger, and keep the cabin doors shut. 


While the trip for some felt as if we were trapped in some sort of ridiculous Disney Channel sitcom or a 48-hour What Would You Do? experiment, nothing could beat the experience of being on an IB Retreat. It was quite the camaraderie-building experience. 


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About the Contributor
Autumn Gordon
Autumn Gordon, Staff Writer
Autumn is an IB Junior who is more than elated to be a part of the Harriton Banner this year! Outside of the Banner, you’ll catch me at the library studying for countless hours. However, when I am not studying, I’ll be painting “Picassos” at home, screeching my electric violin strings, and maintaining my win streak in Connect Four. As a passionate and creative writer, I am looking forward to making you laugh, cry, or even snore at the articles I write.

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