An Inside Look at the GPS Junior Retreat

Emma Davenport '25
Back-to-school retreats are something every GPS girl looks forward to at the beginning of the school year. These two-day long retreats are meant to serve as a way to reconnect with classmates and meet the girls who are new to our grade. Every year each grade goes to a different location, and this year the juniors went to Adventure Ocoee! In this blog, I am going to walk through a day in the life during the Junior class’s retreat. 

Thursday morning, I arrived on campus at 8 a.m. in order to be on the bus by 8:15 to make the hour-long trek to our camp. The bus ride was pretty quiet as people fell back to sleep or watched a movie to help the time pass by. Once we were off the bus my classmates and I made our way to the cabin. The whole grade was going to be staying in one big cabin! We all headed to our assigned rooms and began to prepare for our first activity of the day … paintball!

Our grade was given the option to choose between high ropes course or paintball, and my friends and I chose paintball. We were ready to have some fun and paintball sounded like the perfect way to get our adrenaline pumping. None of us had ever played before so it was guaranteed to be a good time with lots of laughs. After being briefed on instructions we were given face masks to wear and our paintball guns to use. Immediately after putting on the equipment we all began to crack up looking at each other. We were then told to make our way to opposite sides of the field so we could begin to play. The whole time everyone could not stop laughing because of how funny the game was and how funny everyone looked. Even when we got shot with the paintball and had to come out of the game, everyone still found a way to laugh about it and have an amazing time. 

After countless rounds of paintball and a quick break for lunch, it was then time to make our way to the waterpark. Everyone had been looking forward to this the whole day and it was finally time! The second we reached the waterpark we couldn’t wait to get in the lazy river and go down the waterslide. After hearing the rules from one of the lifeguards, everyone quickly made their way to the lazy river. My friends and I grabbed a tube and headed into the water. Soon after we had gotten comfortable in our tubes and were floating through the lazy river, huge waves began to form in the pool. We had no idea just how big the waves were going to be! The waves began to pick up the tubes and we were flying through the river and cracking up with laughter. This unexpected surprise quickly became everyone's favorite part of the day. 

After spending most of the afternoon at the waterpark, we made our way back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. We ate a quick dinner, and were filled up with chicken tacos and brownies before making our way to the barn to paint our GPS dresses! On every class retreat it is tradition to paint your GPS dress at the beginning of every year. Since the junior class color is yellow we all paint a yellow dress onto our own canvas and add our own touch in the background of the painting. After these are completed, we hang them above our lockers so the junior hallway is lined with paintings of yellow dresses! This is always my favorite part of the retreat. This was the perfect end to the first day of our retreat!

On the second and final day of our retreat we got to go whitewater rafting down the Ocoee! Everyone had been looking forward to this since the beginning of the retreat. The grade was divided into two groups and I was in the first group, meaning we had to get up bright and early in order to have plenty of time for rafting. We loaded up onto a bus with all of our rafting equipment and made our way to the Ocoee. After a quick bus ride we arrived at the river and everyone could feel the excitement and nervousness. My friends and I made our way onto our raft with our guide and entered the water. Immediately we were met with our first set of rapids! The second we hit the rapids we all erupted in laughter and shrieks. We continued to make our way down the river, hitting quite a few sets of rapids that included tons of laughs. By the end of the rafting excursion our stomachs were sore from laughing so much. The whitewater rafting experience was the perfect ending to our junior year retreat!