Starbucks, homework and a football game are all common activities for a college student’s Saturday afternoon – not horseback riding, archery and a low ropes course. On Sept. 26, 19 students from Gannon’s chapter of Phi Eta Sigma were able to forgo the typical Saturday morning routine and partake in outdoor team-building activities at the WLD Ranch in Girard, Pa.

The attendees of the retreat were sophomore, junior and senior members of Phi Eta Sigma, the national freshman honor society. The student leaders were accompanied by the Rev. George Strohmeyer, Phi Eta Sigma co-adviser, university chaplain and vice president of mission and ministry.

The afternoon at WLD consisted of four hours of group-oriented activities. Teamwork, communication and group leadership were stressed in an activity where all members were challenged to complete multiple tasks while balancing a softball on a metal ring. Each student held onto a piece of string that was tied to the ring. The difficulty of the task was only compounded by the blustery fall day, yet the team was successful in completing all tasks.

Becky Iscrupe, a sophomore occupational therapy major and Phi Eta Sigma president, said this exercise was the most challenging and the most rewarding.

“We are able to learn leadership skills while we’re bonding,” Iscrupe said. “This is important because almost everybody here is involved in other clubs, and they can bring these skills back with them to the other club. My favorite part, though, was learning archery.”

After lunch and a low ropes course consisting of a Tarzan-esque rope swing and an 8-foot climb to the top of a rather wobbly-appearing wooden structure, the group split in half to learn archery and horseback riding.

These two activities were sophomore environmental engineering major Stephanie Schwabenbauer’s favorite.

“I’m really into outdoors things,” Schwabenbauer said. “And the archery and horseback riding sounded fun.”

After participating in most of the day’s activities, Rev. Strohmeyer was confident in the impact the WLD retreat will have on not only Phi Eta Sigma as a group, but also the individuals who attended.

“This was just so beneficial,” Strohmeyer said. “Whenever we’re doing something where we get out of ourselves and lose ourselves, we feel close together. We lose our self-consciousness. I love that. The barriers come down and people are just people.”