Over the course of thirty-six hours last week, the 2015-2016 San Luis Obispo Chapter Officer Team discovered local treasures while on their Officer Retreat, where they bonded and planned for the upcoming year.  This years officer team consists of Luke O’Leary, Amber Bjerre, Callan Truer, Hannah Ryan, Kalena Cirone, Carolyn Adams, and Andrew Martin.  Unfortunately, Callan was in Canada visiting family, but was involved in planning this year at a “Mini-Retreat” that was held on the last day of school.   Our chapter is known for our “secret retreats,” meaning Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Evans plan activities and tell the officers what to pack (which usually includes quite a few unnecessary things), but the officers don’t find out the destination until they arrive.

Lifeguard towers really are the perfect place to act like the Brady Bunch!
Lifeguard towers really are the perfect place to act like the Brady Bunch!

This year, their first stop was Cayucos Beach to discuss goals and begin planning.  Along with these activities and a series of questions to get to know each other more, each officer lead the team in a mixer to bond.  President Luke O’Leary said, “I loved playing some games that required team problem solving, out of the box thinking, and athleticism! Good thing we did them on the beach. We fell in the sand more times than I can count!”  They also had a bag in which each person wrote down two to three questions, and the group would all answer them.  This was a great way for the officers to learn more about each other and feel connected to each other.  After dinner, they headed back to the campfire and tried to light it… Without lighter fluid, kindling or matches that lit. Needless to say, this was our first team-building activity!

Luke's mixer required all seven of us to get onto a very small towel, teaching us to trust each other and allowing us to get closer... Literally!
This mixer required all seven of us to get onto a very small towel, teaching us to trust each other and allowing us to get closer… Literally!

Already tired but curious about where we were staying the night, Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Evans told the six to pack up, and drove north to Cambria where they spent the night.  Waking up bright and early, they packed the car and headed north again. They passed the zebras by Hearst Castle, and pulled into San Simeon Cove to kayak.  The kayaking was a great way to bond and work on team skills while having a blast.  While on kayaks they were visited by sea life including: whales, dolphins, and seals.  “It was a very cool experience to be able to be within fifty yards of a whale, while bonding with my teammates.  We had shared laughs as some of our teammates struggled getting in and out of the water.  It was just such a fun day,” said Hannah Ryan, Chapter Treasurer.  One point that the advisors made about this retreat was they really emphasized how many amazing opportunities there are so close to San Luis Obispo and how we don’t have to travel far to have unique and incredible experiences.

Kayaking was quite the experience. We faced about twenty seals and two very large whales, but got to know each other better in the process!
Kayaking was quite the experience. We faced about twenty seals and two very large whales, but got to know each other better in the process!

After the kayaking extravaganza, the team headed into the small town of Cambria for lunch and then headed out to Linn’s Farm Store, where they were all invited to pick and eat ollalieberries.  Here the team enjoyed delicious pies, a friendly dog they named Tater Tot, and a tree swing that brought out the six year old in everyone.  Madame Sentinel, Carolyn Adams, stated, “Exploring local areas like Linn’s berry farm, showed me just one of the incredible things that we are able to do in our own backyard.”  After Linn’s, they headed back to the beach where they exchanged gifts as well as advice with their secret people, which was predetermined.  They also shared five items that represent them.  This was a great way for them to relate to each other and connect on an emotional level.  They then headed home feeling very tired and bonded with each other.  These officers are very excited to serve this year!