By Omnia Saed, a sophomore at Annandale High School
It was cold, everyone was tired, and small drops of rain were coming down as I boarded the bus that would take the LSI group to West Virginia- not necessarily the best start to a weekend camping retreat. I looked around at the people on my bus. Some were talking quietly to the person next to them; others were staring out their windows probably wishing they were home and most were dead asleep. In these next two days, I thought to myself, these guys are going to become my family. Hard to imagine when I barely knew anyone, but I went in with an open mind.
The weather definitely didn’t let up. The rain came down hard and it was freezing to the point that I couldn’t feel my fingers, yet by the time I boarded the bus heading home I didn’t even care. On the ride there I was unsure and nervous about what I had gotten myself into. Now I had just had one of the most memorable weekends ever.
I guess when you’re put in such an intense situation, bracing against the rain and cold, it’s almost impossible not to bond with the people around you. As I began making friends with the people I was huddling next to, I realized how many different the schools and backgrounds were represented. Wearing my Annandale sweatshirt was an instant conversation starter as people pointed out the weirdness of the Annandale High Mascot, the infamous atom.
As soon we were off the bus we started doing team building exercises in groups to break the ice. In the first game we played, each person held on to the corners of a wooden surface that had various holes in it. Our task was to get the ball from the starting line to the finish line just by tilting the table. At first we were shy, but then we started building a strategy and calling out commands. We got really into it, screaming out loud whenever we were close, and panicking whenever the ball was about to go in a hole. We tried at least 6 times, our hands cold and tired, and then finally we did it. We jumped for joy as if we’d accomplished the biggest feat ever, and we found ourselves high five-ing each other as if we were best friends.
I couldn’t help but feel anxious when I thought about the ropes course. I was really scared but I tried not to let it show as I slowly made my way through the tight rope. Finally I jumped off of the platform, free falling and letting the air take hold.
I couldn’t stop myself from smiling when I thought about the group and how we huddled under the canopy singing as loud as, none of us self-conscious, just having fun, even as the relentless rain beat down all around us. It’s weird to think how we were learning so much without realizing it. The maze taught us not to give up, as clichéd as that may sound. No matter how many times our group leader asked us if we wanted to stop we felt compelled to keep going. The ropes course taught us to face our fears, that there really isn’t anything we can’t do, but just things we won’t let ourselves do, and the singing in the rain showed us how confident we are and how in one day random strangers can truly become your friends.