Is Community and Shared Experience All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

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As a sophomore in college I found myself between a rock and a hard place. The decisions I was making were self-destructive and highly influenced by the people I was surrounding myself with. Actively involved in the party scene at my university I was running hard after whatever the world had to offer me, hoping for satisfaction. I ran up empty. Every. Time. A friend invited me to go on a hurricane relief trip with a Christian group. Did it sound like the best time of my life? Not really. Was I desperate for change and something that satisfied? Absolutely. So my friend and I, at the very last minute, signed up to go with 50 strangers to Mississippi.

This trip changed my life. I encountered community like I had never experienced before. These people became friends within the first day, and they showed interest in my life as I had never felt. Love. They loved me for me and wanted to know who I was. I didn’t have to perform, but I could truly be myself and be accepted. Their pursuit of me and genuine love reflected a side of God I didn’t even know existed. This community and experience eventually led me to a real relationship with Jesus. The entire trajectory of my life was altered in the best way possible. 

Shared experience is something that can impact a relationship greatly. Whether it’s shared trauma, adventure, unique encounters, or simply inside jokes. Shared experience bonds people together, often times for the long haul. The friends I met on that trip are still some of my close friends today. People may have differing responses to a retreat, but I believe that there is unique opportunities at hand. Going on a retreat with people you don’t know is a risk. The community you may encounter, the shared experience you will have, the friends you may meet is definitely a reward that is worth the risk.

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Campus Outreach values retreats because of stories like these. Community and shared experiences impact students in powerful ways! 


Brittany Sheehy
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
St. Cloud State University Campus Staff

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