WHMS students attend Courage Retreat at BCHS

The seventh graders from Wisconsin Hills Middle School came together at Brookfield Central Sept. 24 and 25 to learn and discuss an important and universal human quality: courage. Courage is defined as strength in the face of grief and pain. Led by the organization Youth Frontiers, the day consisted of entertaining activities like thumb wrestling and dancing as well as more serious discussions about bullying.
Going into the Courage Retreat, the seventh grade students entered with a basic knowledge of the meaning of courage. But by working in small groups with BC high school student leaders, they left the retreat with a deeper understanding of what it means to be courageous.
An atmosphere of acceptance and cooperation developed as students opened up and talked to peers they may have never talked to before. With each small group, finally culminating in a whole grade sharing circle, students learned that courage meant more than overcoming a fear of spiders or heights. Courage also applies to being true to oneself, helping others, and standing up against bullying. As Leah Cape (‘20) said, “Everyone has struggles in their life, so you should be courageous and try to help them out and be as nice as you can to them.”
The sharing circle in particular revealed and successfully communicated the message of the Courage Retreat. Under dimmed lights, students shared and listened to emotional and honest encounters of bullying at their school. Through this activity, people became more aware of bullying at Wisconsin Hills and the importance of standing up for one another. Andrew Ng (‘20) said that he felt “more inclined to help [his peers] in the future.”
While the Courage Retreat may have taken the seventh graders away from learning about algebra and history for a whole day, they were learning about something arguably much more important. Aileen Herman (’16), a volunteer for the retreat witnessed students taking to heart the importance of courage and kindness. “Having character building days really works. They listen to the life lesson because it comes from their peers and not their teachers,” she said.
On the surface, courage may seem one dimensional, but in a very positive and relaxing way, the Courage Retreat gave students, in what can be a socially awkward and dramatic period in their lives, a new perspective on courage. Ng said he realized, “Courage is in a lot of things we do every day. There are plenty of little, simple acts of kindness we can do every day.”