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The Col­le­giate Scholars Program holds an annual retreat before the fall semester at Camp Michindoh. Alexis Daniels | Col­legian

On Aug. 23, 50 stu­dents from the Col­le­giate Scholars Program toted heavy blankets and duffel bags to their cabins to kick off an annual tra­dition of the program: a retreat at Michindoh Con­ference Center.

CSP stu­dents have been coming to Michindoh for sem­inars, card games, and water activ­ities long before Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Classics and CSP Director Eric Hutchinson took over three years ago.

“That’s really the first event that all of the new sopho­mores come to,” Hutchinson said. “It’s com­munity building.”

Hutchinson used his welcome lecture to introduce this year’s theme: Fate and the Indi­vidual.  Over the course of the next three days, a movie, lec­tures, and sem­inars high­lighted the theme.

The retreat hosted four lec­tures given by Hillsdale College pro­fessors. Classics pro­fessor David Jones gave a lecture on Lucan’s “Civil War”; Assistant Pro­fessor of English Benedict Whalen spoke on Andrew Marvell’s poetry; Assistant Pro­fessor of Music Derek Stauff talked aboutAuden and opera; and Assistant Pro­fessor of German Stephen Naumann dis­cussed the invis­i­bility of mon­u­ments.

Afterward, stu­dents split into groups to discuss the lec­tures.

Sophomore Bryna Destefani said the lec­tures and dis­cus­sions were her favorite part of the retreat. She said she was sur­prised it wasn’t com­pletely aca­demic, as she had expected the retreat to be more like a con­ference.

“They were more per­sonal,” she said. “There was more inter­action between the speaker and the group and lots of con­ver­sa­tions in and amongst our­selves. It was a lot more rela­tional. There was a lot more time of us getting to know the other people in CSP.”

The stu­dents have several tra­di­tions they repeat each year, including various improv games, a water­slide tour­nament, and singing bonfire songs. The student heads of the program, junior Junior Caitlin Weighner and senior Gill West, said these activ­ities build com­munity amongst the stu­dents.

“There’s def­i­nitely a tra­dition of playing board games between lec­tures, like Banana­grams and Dutch Blitz,” Weighner said. “You’re just having fun but you can also kind of let the things you learned that night trickle in the con­ver­sation.”

Weighner and West plan all of the events for CSP, and it takes the entire summer to coor­dinate prepa­ra­tions for the retreat.

“We have to coor­dinate a lot of things with the new sopho­mores to get all the infor­mation, getting them into the Facebook page, fig­uring out how we’re going to introduce them, get people to do improv,” West said. “Cait and I would talk once a week all summer about the next thing we needed to do.”

Destefani says the com­munity of stu­dents felt very close-knit, even though she didn’t know everyone.

“I knew a lot of people in CSP, and they’re all people I really admire,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, OK, if this is what CSP is like — having con­ver­sa­tions with these people and learning from them and learning together with them — that’s def­i­nitely some­thing that I want to be a part of.”