Return of retreats

A look back on Camp Casey resident hall retreats, a look forward to what is to come
by Hailey Echan

The land that Camp Casey resides on is home to laughs, tears and memories alike. For students at Seattle Pacific University, particularly those who have lived in the dorms, this has reigned true for years. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic swept away all possibilities for group activities, Camp Casey hosted a retreat for all of the resident halls on SPU’s campus at the beginning of each school year. Individual hall councils spent time planning and preparing for students to get away from campus and bond with their new floor mates. 

Emerson and Arnett Hall Councils sit on steps at the beginning of the 2019-2020 Emernett Hall Retreat at Camp Casey

Aseda Safoa, recent SPU alum and ex-hall council member, remembers the process to be much of a team effort. 

“We all kind of had a part to play whether that was planning the flow of the weekend or the activities or, of course, the snacks,” Safoa said. 

Casey’s landscape offers a variety of functions that fit the desires of several students. From basketball courts and open fields to beach views and hidden amphitheaters, the activities are endless. 

“We got the chance to play capture the flag at dusk so it was kind of creepy—in the best way—which is always a great time. We also explored the fort: all the different hiding places and gorgeous views were a plus. Dance parties, skits, and photos at sunset also made their way into the plans,” Safoa said. 

Although the retreats happened every year, new memories were made each time. SPU alum and ex-hall council member Jamie Hoffman recounts being able to make new friends at Camp Casey. 

“My favorite memory of being at Camp Casey was being around the campfire with everyone and making connections with people I didn’t know before that night. It was a great time to relax and have fun with old and new friends,” Hoffman said. 

Getting away from campus was a plus for most students, but it wasn’t just the idea of getting away that was appealing. Spending time at Camp Casey made it all the more special. 

“What made retreats special at Casey was being able to get out in nature with your hall, we were able to build connections that probably wouldn’t have been made without the retreat,” Hoffman said. “We were able to explore together and share and make memories together. It was great to get away with everyone!” 

Pre-pandemic, students looked forward to spending quality time together at these Casey retreats. Now that life is starting to fade back to normal, there are plans to bring back the fun. 

Residence Life Coordinator, Jennifer McCoy, is excited to return to Camp Casey next year for resident hall retreats

“There are plans in the works to get students back on Casey at the start of next year,” McCoy said. “So much joy comes from seeing students bond over pictures on the beach, exploring the fort, playing basketball on the courts, and the classic sing-alongs around the bonfire.”

SPU students enjoy taking sunset pictures at retreat on Camp Casey

With all the memories that have been made over the years on the grounds of Camp Casey, there is no telling what else is to come. 

“Retreats were always fun in the past, but after this delay due to COVID, I have a feeling people are going to embrace these retreats more than ever before,” McCoy said.