Leaving behind papers, projects, routines and stress, students experienced relaxation at New Life Ranch during the annual Breakaway fall retreat.
This year’s retreat featured Jason Lanker, professor of Christian ministry and formation, as the key speaker, with an additional session featuring Murray Greenwood, the missionary-in-residence for the 2018-2019 school year.
Breakaway has been a John Brown University tradition for about thirty years. Frank Huebert, Director of Service and Outreach Ministries, said that “in the midst of feeling overwhelmed by classes, it [Breakaway] gives them [the students] the opportunity to dedicate themselves some time to step away from homework,” Huebert said.
Huebert also said that Breakaway has benefits for academics, social interactions, mental health and spiritual growth.
New Life Ranch offers students the opportunity to enjoy the natural environment and outdoor activities such as zip-lining, hiking, ping-pong and outdoor gaga ball pit.
Mikayla Brown, junior art and illustration major, found that the activities helped her to form new connections. “It really helped me meet new people. Looking for somebody to go canoeing with you, you meet new people, being in the cabins where there are so many girls in there, you meet new people and you go and do activities with them,” Brown said. “I really like getting to do whatever I wanted to do. I have a pretty rigid schedule during the week so being able to just go swimming, rope swing[ing] and canoeing was nice.”
As a transfer student, Brown said that all the activities she goes to seem to be freshman-orientated and Breakaway gave her the opportunity to connect with people from different years.
“Whenever I first heard about JBU, I realized it was very connected. I just felt I was not getting in there yet and Breakaway really helped me to see that I was in a big family. I feel more adapted into it now,” Brown said.
Huebert also highlighted some advantages of taking a break from campus. He said, “Changing our location and changing our rhythm opens us to possibilities. to relationships, insights and even to listen to God well. It does not mean that God does not talk to us in our normal routine, but sometimes just dedicating a little bit of time to step outside of the normal gives us ears to hear in different ways.”
The planning process for Breakaway begins between March and April during the spring semester, led by the campus ministry and outreach directors of the Student Ministries Leadership Team.
Mariana Portillo, sophomore management major, was part of the committee in charge of organizing and carrying out the Breakaway planning process.
She points out that there is a lot of busyness throughout the week and resting is extremely important. “We all need rest in order to serve others better and give the best of ourselves,” Portillo said. “Do things that make you feel rest, not necessarily to sleep on a bed or taking a nap, but journaling, going away, being part of the JBU community and doing something fun,” Portillo said.