Serious Fun, Seriously

On a clear, Friday evening in the middle of September, 350 students fill seven buses that are headed east, to a respite in Pali Mountain near Lake Arrowhead for a three-day getaway.

It’s the First Year Retreat, a gathering where freshman and transfer students look closely together at what it will mean to adjust to LMU life.

The first year of college is all about change: self-discovery takes a new turn; relationships with family and friends change; faith is challenged, or first encountered. The First Year Retreat is about rootedness: In talks and small groups, students reflect on their expectations of self, others and God.

But for every dose of seriousness is a dose of fun: “Relationship Jeopardy,” the game of relationships; infomercials — spoofs of well-known YouTube videos; and the retreat leaders’ pantomimed skit to “Everything” by Lifehouse. The fun is now crucial to the tradition. Each year, new students ask: “Can I sign up for First Year Retreat? My friends told me not to miss it!”