Greek retreat creates bonds, emphasizes community

Junior Lauren Stiles of Kappa Kappa Gamma said she didn’t expect to form a bond with anyone at the Greek retreat over the weekend, but she exceeded her expectations.

“I don’t see their Greek letters anymore, I see them as people,” Stiles said. “I never imagined crying when I left them. It was one of the best experiences of my life in the case that I was able to meet so many amazing, funny and spectacular people.”

Stiles was one of 34 Greek students to attend the retreat led by Lyston Skerritt, assistant director of Greek Life and Chad Warrick, coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life, to Camp Hiawatha, a Salvation Army camp and retreat center located along the banks of the Little Arkansas River, north of Wichita.

The retreat is held each fall semester and is for freshmen, sophomores and juniors in Greek organizations, Skerritt said. The three goals for this retreat were Greek unity, leadership training and service, he said.

After attending the Greek retreat during fall break, freshman Alex Gregerson, from Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, said he learned to trust people and fully open up to others.

“I never thought I’d have so much fun painting buildings, but we cranked up the tunes and had a blast,” Gregerson said.

Skerritt stressed the importance of the retreat for the Wichita State Greek community because the university reached an estimated 900 Greeks for the first time, which increased from about 700 Greek students last fall.

He cited a 2015 spring survey of about 400 students in which 70.9 percent said they would recommend someone to Greek life. Skerritt said he wants to make sure the Greek community makes a positive impact on the WSU community.

“If we leave a bad impression in someone’s mind, that affects future generations,” Skerritt said.

Stiles said Friday started with icebreaker games and talking about what each member wanted to get out of the retreat.

Two members from every chapter at WSU were at the retreat, and on Saturday they split everyone in two groups so that every chapter was represented in each group, Stiles said. Then, they painted Camp Hiawatha cabins. Afterward, each group participated in team-building activities.

The activities included scaling the wall as a team and a ropes course that required members of each group to not break hands.

“We had to figure out ways to lead each other in different ways such as closing our eyes and leading the blind around the campgrounds,” Stiles said.

The group spent Sunday discussing how they bonded, Stiles said. Everyone got in a circle, closed their eyes and Skerritt would tell six people to “tap someone who has touched your life” and other similar commands.

The rest of the retreat involved splitting into gender groups and learning what it means to lead as a man or a woman.

 “We didn’t get super hyped up and everything to not actually go out afterwards and create change,” Gregerson said. “WSU will be different and we will prove it to everyone.”