Shawn Burress, Bayer Healthcare, Class of 2019

On Monday January 7, 2019 twenty people met at the Gretna Glenn camp ground for the start of the 2019 Leadership Lebanon Valley Retreat. Twenty people, from various job titles, different geographic and cultural backgrounds, and from different ages with one common goal…to make a positive difference in their community.

We started the first morning; some of us complete strangers, at 8 AM. The room was full of brief hellos, and semi-formal introductions. Kind glances and smiles as we were instructed to grab some of the provided breakfast. Small conversations during breakfast at the table where most of us had broken into groups of five. The groups sitting at the tables consisted mostly of people who saw a familiar face or who were sitting with someone they recognized the persons placed of business listed on the name tags.

We ended breakfast and Dennis, the retreat leader, made some introductions and announcements. He went on to give the agenda of the retreat, his history of involvement with Leadership Lebanon Valley and some rules. Almost immediately after breakfast, Dennis was instructing us to move into a team building exercise.

Our first exercise was simple enough….group gathers around in a large circle and throws a soft ball to anyone while announcing that person’s name. The person would catch the ball and reply with eye contact, thank you (place name here). As simple as it sounds it was extremely helpful. The group was engaging with each other and I found at the end of that first exercise I could rely on memory for names for over half of the group.

That first exercise set the tone for the team building activities for the rest of the retreat. They were fun, and engaging. The exercises and discussions taught the entire group about our individual strengths and weaknesses. They taught us to communicate and collaborate with each other. Dennis did an amazing job teaching us the value that each one of us individually can bring to the group as well as how much stronger we can be together.

During the next 24 hours, the group dynamic began to change. We all made new connections, we shared stories of family and history, we laughed and laughed and laughed. Each teambuilding event and discussion the group grew a little closer.

Dennis’s calm, cool, no rush approach on all of the activities made the retreats learning experience fun and stress free. The presenters for all of the nonprofits were friendly, informative, and extremely helpful. Gretna Glenn’s staff was very courteous and the food was amazing!!!!

 Jessica, Kelly, and Bob from LVCC provided much needed insight to past successful class projects as well guidance for us to be the greatest class ever…hashtag.