This year, I went on SEARCH, and it was a wonderful experience.
SEARCH is a weekend spiritual retreat hosted by Lycoming College every spring semester. I first heard about it during my freshman year from friends who had gone on the trip before. I was interested in participating in religious events, and when I mentioned this, they told me about SEARCH and encouraged me to sign up. They told me that although the retreat is rooted in Christianity, it’s an experience that applies to people of any belief. The retreat itself is held at a Catholic Monastery. I am a Lutheran Christian, but when I went, I found that the trip was designed and carried out with respect for all faiths.
Before arriving at SEARCH, I was nervous. I had no idea what the weekend would entail, except that it had been highly recommended to me and was supposed to be fun. In all honesty, I dreaded boarding the bus that would take us to the retreat center; I’m not one for surprises, and I felt like there wasn’t a lot I knew about the trip before I got there.
But when I did get there, I found that everyone was energetic and ready to have fun. I was quickly caught up in the good vibes of name tag making, ridiculous icebreaker games, and snacks. We were divided into small groups at dinner, where we were seated at tables with name tags bearing individualized quotes. (If you’re wondering what mine was, it was a Dumbledore quote: “It is not our abilities that show what we really are. It is our choices.”)
The great thing about SEARCH is that it’s centered around the idea of creating an environment where it’s safe to share with others and grow with them. We discussed different themes, such as community and what it meant to each of us, in small and large groups. For such a short trip, it impacted me a lot. I connected with people both in and outside of my group, and I was inspired by the talks we had. I found myself surrounded by strong people, who have been through a lot in their lives but continue to face each new day with brave smiles.
Particularly inspiring were the group leaders, who each held talks throughout the weekend. I was thankful for the way their shared stories about themselves with honesty and courage. I personally find it difficult to speak in front of others — but the leaders at SEARCH did it without fear, out of the selfless intent of reaching those they were speaking to. And it worked. Throughout the retreat, I saw dozens of people connecting with others they had never met before, making new friends, or learning more about their old friends.
Now that I’ve been on SEARCH myself, I recommend it. The nerves I felt were eased quickly after I got there, and it was worth it. For some people, it was a transformative experience, as messages of self-love encouraged everyone on the trip. I found SEARCH to be fun, inspiring, relaxing, and uplifting, and I’m so glad I got to experience it.
To learn more about spiritual life at Lycoming, click here. If you're interested in studying religion or being involved in spiritual life at Lycoming College, set up a meeting with me or any other student on campus when you come to visit Lycoming! Click below to set up a day with us.