Camp Casey: a transformational experience

Photo by C Hayley Halstead

Ten years ago, ten excited individuals had the opportunity to travel to Whidbey Island under the guidance of Assistant Dean of Student Programs, Faisal Jaswal, to embark on an adventure that would not only provide an excellent learning opportunity but also a transformational experience. This year, 150 students will be attending this annual retreat, 20 more participants than last year.

Jaswal shared his overarching goal of Camp Casey as an experience to build “a learning community that supports one another in a learning community, a place where everybody is a learner, everybody is a facilitator, and everybody is a teacher.” Everyone has something to offer and to teach others, and this retreat will serve as a brilliant chance to expose those unique assets.

During the four-day-long event, students participate in interactive activities and learn not only about how to improve one’s self, but also how to reach out to others to host a more inclusive environment. “It’s a very expansive paradigm because people take inventory of what their own leadership styles are, what their core values are, and what their definitions of leadership are,” Jaswal shared, but there’s much more to Camp Casey than simply a leadership retreat.

With the assistance from a curriculum team, logistics team, mentors and additional staff, Jaswal has devised a four day retreat intended for all interested BC students, especially those who participate regularly in Student Programs. “Our job is to create the opportunity for students to be authentic with themselves and others,” Jaswal commented.

While the Camp Casey Leadership Retreat occurs each year, Jaswal indicated that each occasion is not equivalent to the preceding year. At the conclusion of the retreat, students write feedback evaluating the effectiveness of workshops, likes and dislikes and overall improvements that could be made. Jaswal disclosed that he reads all reflections and feedback students write twice and then the curriculum committee will review what students have written too, amounting to approximately 700 pages of reading. This upcoming year, more interactive and experiential learning activities will be planned.

On one of the days, students will engage in a ropes course, in which they need to work as a team in order for completion. In addition, participants will need to confront personal fears, such as heights. This 100 percent hands on activity has particular leadership and teamwork skills embedded within it.

At the end of each day, time is allotted for students to write personal reflections along the beach. “The beach is where I grew up; it’s very personal to me,” Jaswal revealed, “My home is not big enough to hold 100 people, so the next best thing is to take people to a place that’s very sacred to me.” By writing a reflection, students can look back and recall their experience, understand what they have learned, how they achieved their goals and how they can enhance themselves as individuals.

While there was a huge turnout of applicants for mentoring positions, 18 mentors were selected this year to help frame and deliver the content to the students. Students are split up into small groups with people they may not typically interact with, and the mentors’ duties are to internalize concepts by relating situations back to the key concepts students learn. They also serve as inspirational role models.

This year, Camp Casey will be held from June 19-22. Applications are available in Student Programs, C212 and will be due on May 21. The relationships built during this leadership retreat are priceless. Do not miss out on this extraordinary experience to learn and grow from other people’s support.